POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, February 9, 2013 Share
Ah, the fond memories of childhood and growing up with an active imagination like mine led me to five authors who shaped me and caused me to spend entire weekends wrapped up in my beloved books reading all day. The first was Mary Shelley and her classis Horror, or some would argue for the first sci-fi novel called Frankenstein. The fact that a young 19-year old girl conceived what was to become an iconic image throughout pop culture in the 20th Century and beyond is a testament to how far ahead of her own time Shelley was. I read Frankenstein in a children classics edition that was easy to follow. The idea that corpses could be reassembled and brought to life sent a spark through my imagination that caused me to feverishly wait for Universalís Frankenstein to come on Dr. Paul Bearerís Creature Feature on Saturday afternoons. This movie was quickly followed by the colored update with Hammerís The Curse of Frankenstein. Both movies made me fans of Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing and the immortal Christopher Lee. I wanted my own lab and secretly wanted to build a living creature out of tissue but I had to make due with a chemistry set that I received for Christmas. Now it is time to leave the laboratory with the hard working Dr. Victor Frankenstein inside because something is starting to smell.
Next for me was my second favorite childhood author, the one and only Bram Stoker and his marvelous tale of a King vampire called Dracula. Again, I read Dracula in an easy to read format for young readers that were part of the same childrenís classics series as Frankenstein. The idea that a young traveler, who had to visit a mysterious castle in Transylvania for business, caused another spark to fly off in my imagination and it presented the wonderful concept of a stranger entering a strange place where all kinds of horrible things dwelled. You just never know what you will be forced to endure spending countless nights inside Draculaís castle. What scared me about Dracula was when he first arrived in London with the plan to create more vampires and slowly build a vampire army that could take over the world. Luckily he was stopped by the powerful Dr. Van Helsing, Dr. Jack Seward, Quincy Morris, Arthur Holmwood, and Mina and Jonathan Harker. It took a team of humans to beat a centuries old vampire.
I quickly moved on from the childrenís version to the adult one with The Annotated Dracula by Leonard Wolf with beautiful ink drawings by the talented Satty. It was Sattyís images that made the castle and the horrible look of Dracula alive for me. Also I became a fan of Bela Lugosi thanks to seeing Universalís Dracula on Creature Feature. Now I need to put away the stakes in order to seek out the dark corners of the mind.
Robert Louis Stevenson was another favorite who showed me the dual nature of the human mind in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It was a terrible fright to me to believe that anyone, even that harmless looking elderly lady shopping for groceries at your local store could be harboring evil intent behind a benign everyday look. You just canít tell with some people because you really have no idea what is going on in someoneís head, like the calm driver who engages in road rage because someone cuts him or her off in traffic and that person feels deeply wronged and the need for revenge is fueled. The transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Hyde is what got to me. Also the fact that Hyde was so evil; knocking over little girls and killing people and acting out every ill intention was more than enough to cause me to be cautious of that neighbor across the street who seemed nice but maybe a little off upstairs. This was the first book that I didnít see a movie version, although there was a good one starring John Barrymore, I didnít see it until later in life.
The other great novel by Stevenson was Treasure Island and that combined with the Gasparilla Pirate Festival fueled my love for that boyhood favorite, pirates. I was lucky to grow up in Tampa and to be in close proximity to Disney World and the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. However it was the 1950 Disney movie that really made me fall in love with pirates and to seek out Treasure Island to read. I need to find a deserted island to bury my chest filled with gold doubloons and put away my Hyde potion and to prepare my sense of wonder to be ignited.
The first three writers all wrote wonderful horror tales and then my imagination turned to Sci-Fi thanks again to a ride at Disney based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. That ride combined with the Disney movie and an old record containing songs from the movie caused me to want to have enough money to be independently wealthy and purchase my own submarine so I could tour the world underwater.
I was already a fan of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and the next logical step was the mysterious Captain Nemo. I quickly read through childrenís classics version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jules Verne become my next favorite writer. Verne was writing about the use of submarines long before that was actually a reality. He also predicted that rockets would launch from Tampa. Just a short distance from my house is Ballast Point Park, which used to be called Jules Verne Park, however, a plaque is still there honoring Jules Verneís choice of ďTampa Town,Ē for rocket launches from his novel From the Earth to the Moon. I stood and read that plaque several times since learning of it from a friend.
Jules Verne was the first of my favorite writers that I didnít read just one or two books by. I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and then plunged into Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. Overall, it was Captain Nemo and the Nautilus that still causes me to believe I am a little bit like Captain Nemo and his love of ocean exploration every time I am out on a boat or looking at an aquarium. I am beginning to feel water logged and my fingers are wrinkled so I need to look up at the sky.
Just what is out there in outer space? If aliens do exists, and many believe this be true, are they interested in invading the Earth and taking over? Such was the ideas floating inside my head when I first encountered H. G. Wells by way of Jeff Wayneís Musical Version of the War of the Worlds, a 70ís prog rock concept album that caused me many sleepless nights. Just the threat of Alien invasion was enough to bother me. The idea that aliens could descend down to Earth and assemble giant spider looking robots and trash London was scary. However, there is a certain fun to pretending to be a Martian and zapping down people and buildings with your own heat wave. When you are a child you have no power at all and if you could climb inside a Martian ship and blow up your city that would give you that missing power. It is the same concept that makes Godzilla and giant monster movies so much fun, the ability to knock down building and create havoc. I couldnít really do that outside of my imagination but I could draw pictures and color them.
The record version of War of the Worlds caused me to read the novel and like Jules Vernes, I quickly read through the great books of Wells that included The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The First Men in the Moon. Verne and Wells together whetted my appetite for all things Sci-fi and sent me on a journey to seek out the different movie versions that came out. It is time to stand up against the aliens and drive them away from the planet so we can all sleep well tonight.
So there you have it, my five favorite authors from childhood and what each meant to me back when my imagination was always searching for something wonderful. Now that I have more financial resources than when I was younger, I have managed to collect all those novels in the adult versions. I am on a personal quest to re-read these great works and see if I can find the magic again.
"The Castle of Dr. Fetterstein" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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