Friday, June 13, 2008

NOT a Top 10 Obscure SF Book

So, I was looking through the nominations for "Top 10 Oscure F/SF Book," and I couldn't help but think about a book that would make my own list, even though I really can't remember much about it.

I was a young teen, and saw a book that was based on a video game that I had once played at a friend's house (we only had an old Atari 2600 -- not something that could play more advanced games.) The book was called "Planetfall," and the cover said, "In the Bestselling Tradition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Well, I had enjoyed Hitchhiker, and I would certainly be interested in another book in that "Bestselling Tradition"! (Yes, I know that the phrase 'bestselling tradition' makes no sense, but it actually helped sell the book to young-teen me, so I guess it doesn't matter that it didn't make any sense.)

Anyway, the character in the video game (and in the book) is wearing a space suit for the entire time, so there is essentially no physical description of the hero. (Ignore the fact that he's not wearing gloves over his white hands on the cover.) Anyway, over 100 pages into the book, the character is in an atmosphere for the first time, and takes off his space suit, and there's a sentence about how the light fell on his "ebony skin" or something, and I thought, "Hey, the guy I've been reading about for over 100 pages is black!" I guess I hadn't thought of it much before, and I don't think it came up again the book. At the time, though, I remember thinking "No he isn't!" and looking back at the white hands on the cover -- because, of course, the cover artist would know the REAL physical description, not the author.

Anyway, it hadn't really occurred to me that I really only read science fiction books about white men (leaving aside Uhura and Sulu) before I "accidentally" read a book about a character who wasn't. Not a good book, but the first one that made me actually pay attention to who I was reading about.


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