Sunday, May 06, 2007

My Dino Rocket to Mount Doom

Nineteen eighty-four was a banner year. I was nine years old and in fourth grade. That was the year that I got my first pocket knife. I also joined 4-H, discovered model rocketry, and built my first rocket. My friend Robbie Newberg sat at the next desk over and one day he had a copy of Ray Bradbury's Dinosaur Tales. That was my introduction to Ray Bradbury. Shortly thereafter I read R Is For Rocket and S Is For Space and my life was never the same. Next to Bradbury on the library shelf was this guy named Asimov who wrote books about robots and something called the Foundation. And not too far away was this book Dune. I knew that Dune existed because of the 1985 Estes model rocket catalog, which I had picked up at Hobby Lobby, featured a movie tie-in rocket called the Guild Heighliner.

I knew that Dune was about a desert planet, and I knew that it was something badass, like Foundation and 2001. And the back cover of Dune had a very curious blurb by none other than Arthur C. Clarke, who said that it was a towering work of the imagination and that, "I know nothing comparable to it other than The Lord of the Rings."

Say what now?

Lord of the Rings. Hmm. That looked like about a zillion pages. But evidently it was the sequel to something called The Hobbit. So I read The Hobbit and it was frankly pretty kickass. I really dug that Bilbo guy.

All of this had taken some time. Right after The Hobbit I started Fellowship, and I know it was the fall of 1987 because I was 12 years old and the upstairs room in our circa 1900 farmhouse was finally finished and I had taken up residence that summer. Lights out was 9:00, I think, so I spent the hours between 9:00 and midnight under a flashlight with John Carter and David Bowman and Calvin & Hobbes. But first with Frodo and Sam and Strider and the rest of the gang. At first Fellowship kinda bummed me out. I wanted to go on another adventure with Bilbo. I didn't trust this Frodo upstart. He'd never been to the Lonely Mountain; how did I know he wouldn't cave the first time he ran into a troll or some unnaturally large spiders? But he turned out okay.

So to quickly rehash:

4-H -> model rockets -> Hobby Lobby -> Estes Catalog -> *

Robbie Newberg -> Dinosaur Tales -> Ray Bradbury -> the science fiction section -> *

* Dune -> Arthur C. Clarke back cover blurb -> finding LOTR -> The Hobbit -> reading LOTR

Oh, don't try to read The Silmarillion without The Atlas of Middle-Earth handy. It makes a lot more sense if you can actually see what's going on and have some way of keeping the place names and people names separate.

If you're wondering why Tolkien is on my mind, it's because I've been trying to get hold of a copy of The Children of Hurin, but every bookstore in town is sold out. I'll keep you posted.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Duff Stone said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Duff Stone said...

Meh, these editing tools suck. I was just gonna say that Matt is one of the BIG reason why I've discovered the love of literature.

Guess you can't edit out bad comments, and deleting a comment leaves a big ugly footprint.

Either way, Big wave to the Mattster, without you I'd of never gotten to LOTR.

Jarrod > Matt > Enders Game > Starwars Books > wife > self-exclusion > exwife > Cooper > Music > Hangover > Cute GF > Cute GF left > Read LOTR > Happily ever after....

8:01 AM  
Blogger TheBrummell said...

Jarrod > Matt > Enders Game > Starwars Books > wife > self-exclusion > exwife > Cooper > Music > Hangover > Cute GF > Cute GF left > Read LOTR > Happily ever after....

That's a pretty awesome movie plot, right there.

I'd buy the special-edition DVD.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Sally said...

Matt, I know this has nothing to do with this post, but I thought it was hilarious and I had to share it with you.

http://www.headinjurytheater.com/article21.htm

If it's old hat, I apologize. But I've never met anyone who had any of these. I feel deprived, sort of.

11:57 PM  

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