Star Wars. I know… EVERYONE loves Star Wars, but let me explain. I have Aspergers. There was no diagnosis when I was a kid. I’m 51 this year, I was only diagnosed a couple years ago. As a kid, I was a loner because I didn’t know how to fit in with other kids. My brother was 11 years older than me and saw something in me. Somehow he knew it was something I would enjoy. I had my 11 year old mind BLOWN by the first scene of the Star Destroyer passing over. I mean it just kept going, and going, and GOING…. I was hooked. It changed my life. I fell in love with Science Fiction right there.
Star Trek. I watched the Animated Series as a kid on Saturday mornings (BTW… Kids today don’t know how good they have it!) and TOS after school in syndication. It showed me that humans can rise above whatever petty differences we have and that we can become more than the sum of our parts. TNG gave me a vision of the future that we can and SHOULD aspire to where we are free from greed and exploration is done in the name of scientific curiosity, not corporate greed.
The novels/short stories of Larry Niven. I have always loved Sci-Fi (see above), but when I read Larry Niven for the first time, I realized that you can have a great story and still keep it grounded in reality. His novels really opened my eyes to the possibilities of Physics and Science and where they can take us. His novels present humans as they are and aliens as they may be. He doesn’t sugar coat the science the way some writers do, he lets the science speak for itself.
Believe it or not… Comic Books. Specifically, the DC horror titles of the late 70’s and early 80’s. “House of Secrets“, “House of Mystery“, “Unexpected“… I loved them, they changed how I looked at horror, they influenced my view on Fantasy. I like to have fun with the darkness, the comics showed me that it wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather a difference from the light.
And believe me, this list is in no particular order when I mention this one. The novels of J.R.R. Tolkien go high in my rankings on any list. My older brother (again, the one that took me to Star Wars) bought me a box set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings paperbacks one Christmas and I was immediately entranced. I loved the thought of Good (Capital G) overcoming overwhelming Evil (Capital E) and triumphing in the end. It took me a while to get through them the first time (I think I was 9 or 10 when I first got the set) but once I did, I read them over and over and over again.
The Six Million Dollar Man was on TV when I was a kid and I NEVER missed an episode. I loved the idea that science could take a man who had lost both legs, an arm and an eye and make him into something better than he had been in the first place. I read the novel by Martin Caidin (Cyborg) years after and I was surprised at how close to the book they had made the show (at least initially).
Mononoke Hime by Hayao Miyazaki! (Subtitled, NOT the dubbed version.) OMG… It completely changed how I viewed animated movies. Up to that time, the most “adult” (in the non-pornographic sense) animated movie I had seen was “Heavy Metal“. “Heavy Metal” followed a fairly predictable path, and I came into Mononoke Hime I had pretty much the same expectations. I was VERY pleasantly surprised to find performances very nuanced and sophisticated in their presentation and characters that were NOT stereotypes. The end of the movie left me in tears and really influenced my views on the environment and our role as stewards of the planet.