I’ve just finished answering a set of questions about writing SF, the results of which will appear in a magazine article. One of the questions asked was What’s the first SF you remember reading?
I couldn’t give a definitive answer but there are two series that stand out in my mind from my childhood. The first is the Space series of children’s SF anthologies, edited by Richard Davis in the 1970’s and early ’80s, the second is the Danny Dunn series by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin.
Did anyone else read those books? I haven’t read them for years, probably not since I became a teenager, and I’m not sure I would want to read one again. It might spoil the memories.
But I loved the books at the time. Danny Dunn liked science and maths, so did the adults around him. His mother was housekeeper to Professor Bullfinch, a man who encouraged Danny’s love of science and taught him new things. The science was pretty authentic (or so I remember) and I used to devour it. The professor invented some of the objects which started Danny off on adventures.
For me, the best thing about the stories was that Danny Dunn (and his friends Irene and Joe) would win through by using their intelligence. The resolution wasn’t achieved by guns, or superpowers, or magic, it was always achieved by thinking, by learning new facts and applying them. I wouldn’t say the books got me interested in studying Maths, but it definitely made me realise just how cool maths and science were. And if you’re laughing at this last sentence, then understand this, it showed me that there were other people who found those subjects cool.
I wonder what happened to Danny Dunn?
He’s probably a grandfather by now. I’d like to think that his kids are working at CERN or somewhere like that. I hope they didn’t end up working in quantum finance.
Danny Dunn, boy accountant. It doesn’t bear thinking about.