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Do Martian Bouncers Dream with REM Sleep?

Back in the days when I was knee-high to a Martian bouncer, I moved out of the incubator of elementary school and into the wide world of Junior High School. The year Maz slammed the World Series winning walk-off home run over the left field wall of Forbes Field. I was out of my element, discomforted by the poorly lit tan locker-lined halls with floors waxed to the squeak of my shoes. Challenged by my first real taste of fashion consciousness. White pressed shirt, black pants, white socks, black shoes. Much as my mother plied me with shirts that sparkled with pastel hues, I stayed true to my cool.

I hid in the school library. It was a trend that lasted well through high school until …well, now. I discovered the excellent taste and wisdom of public school librarians. I praise them to this day.

Spotted in the fiction shelves was the recently completed series of juvenile novels by Robert A Heinlein. I gulped them down, re-read them. Thought about them. Dreamed about them. You could also find a series some thirty-seven strong of science fiction novels published by the John C Winston Company. Contained authors the likes of Arthur C.Clarke, Lester DelRay, Donald A Wollheim, Raymond F Jones, Robert W Lowndes, and even Ed McBain (Evan Hunter) writing under yet another pen name, Richard Marsten. Covers adorned the books that begged you to open them. Best of all was the inside front endpaper two-panel illustration by Alex Schomburg.

Schomburg Winsotn end papersThrough these stories, I was able to move far beyond my sweet suburban neighborhood. Walk out of the confines of the echo of school hallways. Fly off the planet earth. Leave the solar system. Travel beyond the gasp of our galactic group. Join the end, or the beginning, of the universe. Soar outside even those bounds. Imagination unfettered. Life far better realized. A real appreciation of the intellect provided by science and literature. A space that was no longer a place to hide, but a place to live.

Those books are on the shelves behind me as I sit here ticking on my computer keyboard. I re-read them with some frequency. Even though my tastes have matured, those publications never fail to thrill me. Dream along with me, I’m on my way to the stars.