When I was a little kid I was a voracious reader. I learned to read before I was two, before I could walk, and found myself lost in the wonderful fantastical worlds of books for about the next decade.

Most children's books contain elements of fantasy even if they are not completely fantastical in nature. There is maybe a magic pebble in an otherwise normal world, or a boy's pet dragon that no one seems to think is that extraordinary. These tweaks of reality, blended seamlessly into the pages of characters' lives, kept me entertained for most of elementary school, and I read countless tales of underwater cities, of kids saving the world with a time machine, of girls who rode unicorns. And then I entered middle school, and everything changed.

What is this YOUNG ADULT crap?

Why are they all about boys and girls falling in love? Why am I suddenly supposed to care about fictional people dating anyway? I thought in disgust. But except for the occasional sports story or historical fiction, there seemed to be nothing for my age group that was for any purpose other than to clue me in that I was supposed to start liking boys. As far as I was concerned they still had cooties, and I wasn't interested. But since I'd long since read most of the "baby books," I resigned myself to reading stories of relationships and the crises associated with said relationships' dissolving. Oh well, I thought.

And then I discovered science fiction.

They make books about other worlds for big kids? I thought incredulously when I ran into a copy of Joan D. Vinge's "young adult" novel Psion. Oh, oh, oh. Yummy. Looking back, that novel was a bit steep for the young adult classification (hence my quotation marks above), but I'm sure glad someone decided it was for older kids rather than adults, because I never would have found it otherwise. Wow, this is taking place on another planet! And the people have cool powers and stuff! And it's all so real, none of that syrupy "this is a story" feel that the wannabe romance novels had! Oh, oh, oh, I am addicted.

Hook, line, and sinker.

Now I can't live without a regular dose of science fiction. Serve it up with my peas and carrots! I was hooked immediately, pulled into the wonderful worlds of imaginative authors who dared to leave this dimension, this planet, and the dull drone of everyday human experience. Fantasy was no longer a thing of the past, a thing I was to grow out of; I didn't have to leave the tales unusual occurrences in my childhood just because the majority of adult literature is a bit more grounded in reality. Instead of leaving the imaginative stories behind, I managed to move on to books which expanded on these speculative happenings. Fairy tales, fantasy worlds, and strange new planets . . . they grew up too. And I'm a better person for it--after all, I never went to the Young Adult section for my fat helping o' literature again. Joan D. Vinge and several other talented authors saved me from the horror that is romance. And for that, I am truly, truly thankful.

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