It was a warm summer night in the middle of the 1970s. The moon landings were a recent memory.
I had been reading a textbook on astronomy, which described the star Arcturus as having a “lovely orange-red colour” under magnification. I borrowed my father’s binoculars and stood in the back garden. It took me a few seconds to get the star centred then I was suddenly entranced by the auburn glow.
In cosmic terms Arcturus is very close, almost in the next street. I found myself thinking “that would look glorious from close up”. Then I realised that there was almost no chance of anyone building a spaceship that could get there in my lifetime.
I almost cried. But then I realised that there was just one way I could travel the galaxy.
I gave my father’s binoculars back and borrowed his typewriter. And that’s how I took up science fiction.