The "Gateway Drug" of Speculative Fiction

Instead of posting a review today (I’m having another bad energy day so I just don’t have it in me) I’m going to ask a question of my dear readers about what YOUR gateway drugs of speculative fiction are. Continue reading to see what I’m talking about. 
I was online talking to a fellow speculative fiction reader (@pbdp on twitter) last night when we got into a discussion about the books we read that got us into speculative fiction. I mentioned to him that my first book that got me into SF was The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Because it was my first book of this nature, it will always be considered fantastic to me even though it’s probably really not that good. It’s more of a sentimental thing than a quality thing. 
He replied by saying that he thinks everyone has a book like that; a book that’s not that great but holds some sentimental place for us as it got us into SF. Generally, I think we tend to think of these books as being better than they actually are. His was The Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks, which many complain about but he will always consider awesome because it was his first real SF series and it got him into the genre. 
So, you have our answers. My gateway drug for SF was The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and @pbdp’s was The Sword of Shannara series. What’s yours? 

29 Responses

  • coolingpearls

    I started with The Hobbit. I still froth at the brain fanatically over it. (I'm Danae_alThor, following you on Twitter.)

  • Jamie Gibbs (Mithril Wisdom)

    My gateway was Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind. I think if I reread it now, I'd probably notice how preachy it was. Still, from there I read the entire Sword of Truth series and broke into the genre from there. Never looked back πŸ™‚

  • Seak (Bryce L.)

    Technically Lord of the Rings (although I'll still argue it's amazing today), but one that I count more along the lines of the topic is The Belgariad by Eddings. Loved all the characters and races, but I admit it holds a sentimental place more than anything. πŸ™‚

  • Jeff C

    I have a few: Sword of Shannara, The Iron Tower Trilogy, The Belgariad, and Dragonlance.

  • HΓ©lΓ¨ne

    The city by Simak and More than human by Sturgeon, one after the other : they started me on SF and, a year later, I discovered Tolkien. All in French translation at the time.

  • Kathy Martin

    The first SF book I remember reading was The Time of the Great Freeze by Robert Silverburg. I read it after school each day at the Duluth Public Library while waiting for a ride home from my dad. I have no idea why I didn't check it out and I haven't looked it up now that I'm an adult to see if it is as great as I remember it. I don't really see how it could be – but, then, I thought it was amazing.

  • Kristen

    This is a tough question to answer since I read a few fantasy books one summer and looked for more after that. The ones I remember the most as causing me to find more fantasy books from that time were Lord of the Rings and The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead. Soon after that I read A Game of Thrones and I've been an addict ever since.

  • Scott

    Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

    In hindsight they aren't brilliant, but they are still good…and I haven't looked back since.

  • Sarah (Bookworm Blues)

    I forgot about the Dragonlance Chronicles! Those were one of my very first fantasy reads as well. I used to have the hots for Raistlin (did I spell that right?)

  • Memory

    C.S. Lewis's Narnia books were the first fantasy I ever read, but when i was twelve, the Forgotten Realms series hooked me into adult fantasy. I read and enjoyed the Avatar Trilogy, then fell head over heels in love with R.A. Salvatore's Dark Elf trilogy. That was that. I promptly raided both my school's library and my L.A. teacher's in-class bookshelf for more of the same.

  • Craig Smith

    Crystal Shard, The Hobbit and the Carpet People

  • Harry Markov

    Harry Potter. Don't laugh. I was eleven, when it came out and my name is Harry, so my mother decided that I should have it, so this was my gateway to SFF & reading in general. I was a TV brat and did not really like books until then.

  • Scott

    Hots for Raist huh? Was it his gold, hourglass shaped eyes?

  • redhead

    oh Wow, Dragonlance. Does that bring back memories! I'm 12 years old and a 12 year old boy I like puts the first Dragonlance book into my hands, and I'm smitten. With what, I'm not sure.

    A few years later it was Asimov's Robot series. You know, the ones with Lije Bailey and Daneel? Major amounts of sexism, weird simplified murder mysteries, generally seen as a classic but not a lot of depth? Yup, I was addicted.

  • Anonymous

    For a while I had read texts that can probably loosely be lumped into the SF/F genre, as precursors and the like : folk tales, "Matter of Britain", epics…

    The real lightbulb moment as to the fact that people nowadays were still writing stuff akin to them came with the Lord of the Ring I think. Then I discovered SF soon after as it tended to be confined to the same literary ghetto, so to speak, same publishers and collections, same corner of public libraries and bookshops…

    Still love LotR quite a lot though it's been disthroned from among my very top favorites over the years. Dune hasn't budged an inch from there however πŸ˜€

  • Nicole Zoltack

    Definitely Lord of the Rings, although I have to mention The Sword of Shannara series by Terry Brooks too. Loved them all.

  • Sarah (Bookworm Blues)

    Wow, some great answers. It's kind of neat to look through here and see what brought everyone into SF. Thanks for answering!

    Scott, I have always been an absolute sucker for moral ambiguity. For example, when I read C.S. Friedman's Coldfire trilogy I had a literary crush on Gerald Terrant. It's something about the mystery of it it all….

    I can't remember, but it was probably that mixed with his magic. My friends used to make fun of me for it. haha. I feel old. That was 10 years ago.

  • Seak (Bryce L.)

    I think Harry's wins for his choice being his own name. Awesome. πŸ™‚

  • ediFanoB

    I know I'm late. But better late than never. To keep it short: Lord of the Rings.

  • joe

    Mine was The Hobbit, but even though I still like it I am one of the non fans in general of Tolkien, I know we need him for a lot of what has came but I in general except for the Hobbit find him one of the most boring authors in the genre, but I also am a bigger Science Fiction fan than fantasy. I do however really like the newer fantasy like Abercrombe and Martin.

  • Sarah (Bookworm Blues)

    Joe, I'm with you on that one. I am not a huge Tolkien fan, though I really recognize him as an amazing author and think of him as the granddaddy of modern fantasy.

  • The Evil Hat

    I had a few false starts, books that I loved but that didn't make me pursue more of the genre. The book that really got me started, though, was The Wheel of Time.

  • Brenda

    I think mine was probably the Pern books. I can't remember reading speculative fiction before then.

  • Heather

    The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien were the SF books that got me hooked. I still think they are the best I've ever read. I've never found another author that can capture my imagination like Tolkien. Any suggestions?

  • Mieneke

    Late to comment as I'm really behind on my RSS feeds, but I guess I'm one of the many whose first real SFF read was Eddings' Belgariad. I read the Narnia books years earlier (even read them to my baby brother), but those are classed as children's books here in The Netherlands so they never registered as fantasy until years later.

  • Suey

    Probably Orson Scott Card stuff in general, Ender's Game specifically.

    Fun question!

  • Benjamin

    Like a bunch of other people, I started with Dragonlance. Though I started with some other books rather than the main Chronicles trilogy as most people do.

  • Nick

    Ray Feist's Magician.

  • Michael

    Mine first novel to ever read was The Empire Strikes Back way back in 1984. I was 13 and I have loved SF/F ever since. I have moved to a Fantasy love more than Sci Fi (outside of Star Wars, which I still read a lot of). I read The Lord of the Rings in the late 80s and absolutely fell in love with it. I have read LotR every year for the last 15 years, and I have read a lot of the Tolkien's other works inside Middle Earth and love the detail that he put forth for Middle Earth.

    Today, I am fascinated by Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks' worlds and Paul Kemp and RA Salvatore's Forgotten Realms novels. I have not read a lot of the 'classic' fantasy authors, but I have laid out a 20 book TBR that I am working through that should allow me to read a lot of those classic authors.

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