Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2009 SF Experience-The Winston Science Fiction series

After discovering and enjoying The Runaway Robot I went in search of something similar to read. Fortunately, I had become friends with our reading teacher. She had inherited a room with many shelves and boxes of books. Two of my friends and I offered to give up a few recess periods a week to organize the books. First we unpacked and alphabetized the books. Then we created a card catalog. It was an interesting experience that made us appreciate librarians.

I knew I wanted to read more books like The Runaway Robot but I did not know what authors to look for. The Winston Science Fiction series came to my rescue. The rocket ship logo was a visible clue that led the way to the science fiction treasure in our reading room.

For those of you not fortunate enough to have experienced the Winston series, here is a short explanation from Wikipedia.

Juvenile science fiction hard covers had been published for some time prior to the beginning of the Winston series, most notably the
Tom Swift series published from 1910-1941. However, as the Tom Swift series declined, and the economic pressures of World War II escalated, juvenile offerings became slim.

The Winston Publishing Company had a history of publishing material for youth since the early part of the 20th century, such as the Young People's Library of Entertainment and Amusement and The Forward Series for Boys and Girls.[2] After the publication of Robert A. Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo in 1947 revived the juvenile science fiction market, The Winston Publishing Company decided to develop a juvenile science fiction series that would be set apart from the pulp fiction of its time. Known and respected SF authors were hired, and each novel was to include a factual forward explaining the science and technology referenced in the novel. The publisher's announcement of the series in Publishers Weekly clearly outlines the goals of the series:

Five compelling tales designed TO SELL to the expanding science fiction market! Only writers who have won the respect of the science fiction audience have been signed to write these accurate yet absorbing books. Each contains an explanation of new terms and a discussion of its scientific aspects. ... For all ages.

For my fifth grade mind, this was like hitting it big in the lottery. This series introduced me to many new authors and expanded my definition of science fiction. I learned to explore the ocean depths through titles like Attack from Atlantis and Sons of the Ocean Deeps. I traveled through the Solar System by reading Battle on Mercury, Five Against Venus, Marooned on Mars, Missing Men of Saturn, The Secret of Saturn's Rings, Trouble on Titan, Rocket to Luna, and others. The titles alone are enough to bring back happy memories of those days.

My favorite from that series was a book called The Star Conquerors. Imagine my surprise when I found the science fiction magazines and saw the name of the author of The Star Conquerors listed as the editor of Analog. And to this day, Ben Bova is still writing good science fiction books. Every time he releases a new book, I smile and remember the days when I first discovered science fiction.

Winston Science Fiction(list courtesy of Wikipedia)

Tomorrow I finish move on to the Tom Swift Jr. series.


Carl V. said...

Thanks for this list Jim!!!

Blackhawk said...

I have undertaken a mission to get as many of the Winston books back into print as ebooks as I can. You can see the books I currently have here: