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Monday, March 05, 2007

Geeky Monday-

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-

13 comments:

Phoebe Fay said...

I woulda signed up!

But then I was a total geek, too. For a couple years (like 4th, 5th grade), I got a kids science fiction magazine, which I devoured every month. And then it stopped - I don't remember if it stopped publishing or if my mom didn't renew the subscription - but I was very bummed. They published a lot of stories in serial form, and I never did find out what happened to those kids after the alien invasion!

But not long after that, I discovered Asimov, and I was a happy camper again.

Thomas said...

I once had a college course called 'the science of Science Fiction."

It combined reading sci fiction novels and physics.

It was great

TV

Colonel Colonel said...

Phoebe- I'll bet your folks sent the sci-fi magazine to a farm in the country, to play happily with all the other magazines...

Thomas- Thanks for coming by! That sounds like a great course. It also sounds a bit like current Bush Administration policy, but that's a completely different kettle of Borgs.

Cissy Strutt said...

I wonder if you have read Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow. It is a powerful novel & a sneaky way to get novel readers to read science fiction.

anaglyph said...

Oh please please please can I have a hi-rez scan of that cover??!!

I want to make a t-shirt of it...

Colonel Colonel said...

Cissy- I have not read that, but I'm putting it on my "to order" list. I'll report back. It would be interesting to compile a list of books that cross that "This will get a novel reader to read Sci-Fi" line. My own nomination would be Vladmimir Voinovich's "Moscow 2042", but that could simply be because I love all his books.

Reverend- you are a genius. Here it is. Go nuts.

Colonel Colonel said...

ps- Reverend- I have no idea where the brunette babe in white's torso went. Apparently he vaporized it with his glasses...

Mike said...

The Wife Factory?? That should be on the Utah State license plate.

The only special classes I ever got to sign up for was Special Ed.

JD Rhoades said...

When I was about ten or eleven, my parents went every Wednesday night to play bridge with another couple. I always got dragged along, put in the room with the TV, and basically left to amuse myself till they were done. On the bookshelves in the TV room was a treasure trove of 50's and early 60's sci-fi: Fredric Brown, Asimov, Clifford D. Simak, and all of the Heinlein juveniles. I pulled one of those down and began reading, and that was it for me. I started looking forward to Wednesday nights. I'd start reading one and borrow the book I was reading to take home and finish. One day, they decided to clean out "all those old books Bill never reads anymore"---and they gave them all to me. I still have most of them. Some of them are probably worth a fortune, but I'll never sell.

Joey Polanski said...

Evr read th crap thats publishd undr th names Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee?

HINT: Produckt MAY cntain TRACES of Clarke.

(*wretch*)

Cissy Strutt said...

Does anyone know why, when you are made undead, zombified, stitched together from spare parts or produced in a Wife Factory, you must then extend your arms forward, parrallel to the ground, and remain in that pose? Just wondering.

anaglyph said...

Isn't she sort of coming out of the wall? That's what I thought. Well, I guess that makes about exacty er... zero sense, but hey.

Thanks for the image!! I will make a shirt design over at Cafe Press and let you all know!

Colonel Colonel said...

Mike- in my high school, Special Ed kids had the best pot. Or, er, at least that's what I heard.

JD- That's a great story. And speaking of great stories, anyone who has not yet seen it should check out Flame Wars for a cautionary tale about blogging...

Joey- I've never read any. Ick. I think I'll stick with the Full Clarke.

Cissy- I believe it's a Union thing.

Reverend- I hadn't noticed that before. That guy has women coming out the walls. I'll bet he has no trouble sub-letting that apartment.