"...What Might Yet Be."
In the mid 1950's some of the best science fiction was being produced by writers who turned out to be the genre's giants.
I was six years old and recovering from the infection of three strains of the polio virus.
At the time I was not aware of any relationship between these two events, or the significance that they would have in my life.
The isolation of living on a farm in central Wisconsin at that time was very challenging for any socially adroit child. And if the paralyzing effects of post polio are added, a child's whole universe might just be within a few rooms of his home. My parents, though not perfect, did have vast amounts of unconditional love for each of their four sons. Whenever possible, we participated together in family activities. The 4-H club, church activities, community events, and family reunions during the holidays helped keep this severely paralyzed little guy in touch with the larger world.
However, many days were spent at home doing schoolwork brought in by the township's gradeschool teacher [accessible schools were very rare then], watching TV [our first TV was a "Welcome home from the hospital" gift from the neighbors], and playing with my brothers [my hospital bed became the spaceship we used to explore the galaxy].
My young, inquisitive mind drew from all the resources available to me. The adventures of `Rocky Jones Space Cadet" and "Flash Gordon" serials on TV fueled my imagination with the energy of speculation. "Mr. Wizard" and other hard science programs of that period helped me understand the functioning of the real universe. Toy ray guns, chemistry sets, tin robot toys, toy microscopes, "The Twilight Zone," space issues of National Geographic, model rocketships, science fiction comic books, "Science Fiction Theater" on TV, "B" monster films on Saturday afternoon TV, news reports of our first blundering steps into space, all challenged me to consider what was and what might yet be.
Then one afternoon, as I examined a fresh stack of books which my mother had just brought home from the public library, a new door opened for me. I found a book of science fiction titled Mystery of Mars Hill. For some reason this book gave me a new, special kind of joy and delight as I read it. This was my first real novel. Yes, it was a juvenile novel, but the story and characters pulled me in; for the first time in my young life, this story became important enough that I had to read it without stopping [if possible]. I did not want the story to end. This was an entirely new reading experience for me. This book became a catalyst for me. All of my previous life experiences, as well as the ongoing passage into maturity, sharpened my view of the world.
The wonders of what "might be" began to flower in my awareness. It became evident to me that there were always more ways to look at life and its experiences than that which was readily apparent to most of my family and friends. Future's possibilities were endless. I began to better understand humans as I saw them through the eyes of alien beings [as the human authors of the science fiction novels understood them]. Technology could be a benevolent servant of humanity or its destroyer.
As my view of the world became more galactic and less provincial, the loneliness which I had felt became a powerful fuel for my creativity. Furthermore, primitive forms of technology, about which I had been reading in science fiction, began to give a new independence to people with disabilities. Powered wheelchairs, smaller respirators, and thousands of other devices and materials [many which came from space research], forced gravity to relinquish some of its power over me and many other people with disabilities. I began to participate in the community around me. The isolation, which had been part of my physical "differentness" and my semi-rural home, began to dissipate.
The "Arts" became a big part of my life. Painting, photography, and the electronic media were the gymnasiums where I exercised my mental and [rather limited] physical muscles. The ideas of Art and process have always been much more important to me than a completed piece or project. I don't see life as having an ending achievement. I feel life is a state of being. So, I guess my art and my life might be seen as one and the same.
Over the years, as my life changes took place, science fiction has always been part of the growth which I experienced.
This website is an example of how my interest in science fiction, art and technology have morphed into an artistic expression of my philosophy.
I've seen so many changes in my world, mostly for the better. Almost everything that is part of my life has been written about in some science fiction story or another.
The begining of the next millenium probably won't be the mystical event that many people expect. Afterall, the last one wasn't. But, I assure you, the year 2001 will be an exciting time. It will be full of new things, adventures, fun, and challenges for all of us.
And science fiction will continue to show us "What might yet be".