More First SciFi Reads Tom Corbett Space Cadet

Tom CorbettDoing a second column over at USA Today HEA today on what the first science fiction or fantasy novels were that various SF&F authors read. Hop on over and check it out, see if anyone mentioned your favorite!

My Dad gave me a set of  the Tom Corbett Space Cadet books when I was a  kid. They weren’t the first science fiction I ever read, but they were the first SF series. Until then the series I’d been reading were more along the lines of  Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and the Dana sisters. I fell totally in love with the world as presented in the Space Cadet books and in fact when I started writing “seriously” in junior high school, I wrote a multi book epic which would be strangely reminiscent of Tom Corbett’s LOL. I did go off on my own plot tangents after the first book, however. I still have them, written in  beautiful cursive, legible…nowadays I can hardly even scribble my name. I’ve been so spoiled by computers. I remember writing the episodes of my novels madly, during school, when I was supposed to be doing something much more scholarly, like math. Oh WELL.

Obviously I never did anything with this series I wrote. It was just one of my learning experiences. I’ve been a seat of the pants author since the beginning and some of the epic developments and plot twists my Muse came up with surprised even me. My space cadets ended up saving the Universe and getting married whereas Tom Corbett and his crew seemed doomed to stay in the Academy forever…My hero was named Lee Shellgour (this was about the point my mother informed me my characters had names like Australian cities, no offense to my friends down under!) and his ship was the Space Dragon. Years later I put the Dragon into my novel WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM in a key role, but alas, not with Captain Shellgour. I did work the Shellgour name into the book in another way though!

Long after I graduated from reading Space Cadet or Trixie Belden, I learned that Tom Corbett had been a TV show back in the 1950’s. I’d never seen any episodes, not even on youtube but I figured in preparation for this post, I ought to at least sample a few.

Not bad for the 1950’s. Apparently each episode began with Tom telling the rest of the crew to get ready for blastoff right before doing some “thrown back in his seat” maneuvers that rival anything the Star Trek crew would do in the far future LOL. You have to see that much of the episode below – it happens at about :40 seconds into the video.

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