The TranzCon Series

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HOW I GOT STARTED IN
SCIENCE FICTION

I’ve been reading sci-fi for so long now I think it’s in my blood. I got started in the genre sometime in the late 1950’s when my Uncle Stuart, a lifelong journalist and sports reporter, introduced me to the little “space-born” boy Kemlo (he had to have a name beginning with K because he’d been born on space-station “K”). Kemlo and his “K” named chums (all boys as I remember, girls wouldn’t want to go into space would they?) went around in their tiny personal space vehicles exploring strange new worlds and breathing “plasmorgia” which occurred naturally in space so they didn’t need air. Oh I wanted so much to be “space-born”. It really was a shame when I had to put those books down to find myself back in boring old Sheffield.

But sadly the children’s section of the library in Hillsborough Park ran out of new Kemlo books at about the same time as I was starting to think how childish they were, so I moved onto the “Lost Planet” series by Angus MacVicar and then the books by Captain W. E. Johns (better known for his “Biggles” books) who wrote about travellers from Earth who stumble across people from a space-going community that had once lived on Mars but who now made their home on a number of asteroids. The craft they travelled around in were circular, exactly the right format to be termed “flying saucers” which in those late 50’s/early 60’s days people seemed to be seeing more or less every day.

In a different genre, I read some of the works of Dennis Wheatley who was so very successful with books such as “The Devil Rides Out”. Well I read a few of his occult books and then, to my surprise, I came across a sci-fi story by Mr Wheatley (obviously jumping on the bandwagon in the 1950’s) so I grabbed it quick before any of the other kids had chance. Unfortunately it was absolute trash.


But the Dennis Wheatley story that grabbed me most of all was the “Ka of Gifford Hillary” (which is nothing at all to do with small cars produced by the Ford motor company). “Ka”, it’s a great word for Scrabble players, and it describes what in Female 22 I call the “life-force”. Although Gifford Hillary’s Ka never actually occupies another body, I was intrigued with the idea of a disembodied spirit drifting around in the ether. Perhaps it was this story above all others that inspired me to create the TranzCon series of books.

And then of course there was Dan Dare!  Saturday morning was an exciting time because the paper boy would deliver my copy of the Eagle so I could keep up to date with the latest adventure of my hero.  Was the evil Mekon going to win or would Dan and Digby escape to fight another day.  I really wish I'd kept all those comics because I could go back and read them all again.


It only remains to say that although sci-fi certainly hasn’t been the only genre I’ve ever read, somehow it’s always been my literary home, a comfortable place to come back to after reading other types of story. So its hardly surprising that the first book I wrote was sci-fi.