I found the first SF novel I ever read

Must have been more than forty years ago back when I was around ten. I couldn’t even remember the title other than it involved a boy, his robot and Ganymede. But thanks to google… The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey (actually ghost-written based on an outline by Lester.)

It sparked off a life-long love-affair with print science fiction and I quickly discovered Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, etc. Now, to track down a copy to see if it was really as good as I remember or if it was just the typical juvenile pulp.

I read that! Don’t remember if it was before or after Space Cat Visits Venus, though, so I can’t say for sure it was my first.

In Runaway Robot, does the robot get color-sensing eyes, and spring that as a surprise on the plucky kid who’s his best friend (a la “Say, Butch, that’s a nice *red *shirt you’re wearing this morning…”)? And is it also the same book where the kid discovers that the elusive Martians on Mars aren’t just a myth - they really do exist, but hide from the earthlings?


Mine was Venus Boy. It was about a kid who lived on Venus, where everyone has to wear armor whenever they go outside because of the arrow-birds, who dive on you and stab you with their beaks. The kid has a pet bear, and bears on Venus can talk and have valuable claws. So the kid learns to talk the bear’s language, and puts nail polish on the bear’s claws, because when Venus bears are young their claws are black, but when they grow up their claws turn blue and are used in making plastic.

Now it is all flooding back. There is a passage where the kid and an adult are out on Venus without their armor, but all the animals on Venus speak the bear language, so the kid is chanting over and over, “Friend-pet, friend-pet, bother us not!” “Friend-pet” is what the bear calls the kid. Then at the end they find out the bears shed their claws automatically, so they no longer have to kill the bears to make plastic.
Like you, I should re-read it to see if it holds up.

It’s like romance - you never forget your first. :smiley:


Geez, Space Cat!

I think there were a couple of them. The Venus one, the spaceship was the ZQX-1 and the human astronaut discovers some substance that is harder than diamond, and he breaks his testing tool on it.

I bet it was fifty years ago - why do I remember this stuff?


Shoot, I think that the first I ever read was Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky. I think.

My first SF book was Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky. I was about 12 - just the right age for Heinlein juvies - and with my parents at a Boring Grown-Ups Party. The host had a whole room full of books, and so I hid in there. Changed my life, I tell ya.

I read that! I used to think about the diving birds, and figured I’d never know what book they were in. I remember the talking pet bear, but thought he was the companion of the first girl born on Venus whom they named IIRC: “Virginia Dare” That must be a different obscure kid’s book.

What sticks out for me in that book is the plants that communicate via telepathy.

I think my first SF book was Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. I quickly devoured everything I could find at the library with the atom on the spine. But it was 50 years ago, so the memories kinda blend together.

The first one I tried to read was Poul Anderson’s The Enemy Stars, but it was tough going for me as a kid. A little later I read his Vault of the Ages, followed by Robert Sheckley’s The Status Civilization. I wasn’t sophisticated enough to realize what a trope-referential work that was, but you can read it as straight fiction, too. I’m convinced they strip-mined it for a lot of the film Total Recall.

Mine was Tom Swift and his Jetmarine.

For non-YA, it was probably the SF anghology Great Science Fiction Stories, edited by Cordelia Titcomb Smith (take a look at its table of contents). I suspect the editor’s name was a pseudonym; she never had another publication.

Well, if Tom Swift counts, it would be one of those or a “Danny Dunn” adventure instead of Asimov.

Mine was Invaders From Rigel. It was in a bargain bin near the checkout at the grocery store when I was about 7. I convinced my mother to buy it for me. Mediocre sci-fi but I still remember it 40 years later.

The Secret of the Ninth Planet by Donald A. Wollheim.

That all sounds really familiar, especially the color vision sensors. I remember the robot escaping from the farm it was sold to and Paul running away and joining him. Then the robot is suspected of kidnapping the boy. The martian stuff sounds vaguely familiar. I really need to track down a copy. I also remember mail-ordering it through school apparently from Scholastic Book Services.

I believe “Martian Chronicles” was the first science fiction for me. I never looked back.

Holy crap! I’ve been trying to remember the title for years. All I could remember was the arrow birds.

And I do remember Runaway Robot.

Zip-Zip And His Flying Saucer(1961)

First one I remember reading was some drek from the UK that had mind-control caps and Martian-style tripods in it.

The Tripod books by John Christopher.