I am most definitely a child of the ‘70s. The older I get, the more I realize how much the culture of my childhood – and the world around me at the time – shaped me into the man that I am today.
These books, and their fantastical storylines, not only shaped my life – they saved it on more than one occasion. There is nothing worse than a child who feels worthless, powerless, completely alone in the world. During some particularly terrible times in my life, when suicide was at least something contemplated, I escaped into books and, albeit temporarily, that scrawny, stuttering kid with the thick glasses could pretend that he was an all-powerful albino sorcerer named Elric or a young wizard named Ged who lived in the archipelago realm of Earthsea or a human named John Carter who, on Mars, was a hero capable of unbelievable feats of strength and daring.
Just take a look at the decidedly science fiction and fantasy powered children's television shows I watched every weekend morning: Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, H.R. Pufnstuf, The Jetsons, Land of the Lost, Josie and the Pussycats, Super Friends... It’s no wonder that I ended up as a science fiction and fantasy book reviewer…
(Cue Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music”…)
My friends call me Goat because ever since junior high school, my chin has been a part of the witness protection program. I remember even as a kid, I was obsessed with growing a beard. Beards were big in the ‘70s. Beards were sexy. Real men had beards. God even had a beard. I was in elementary school when I saw the movie Jesus Christ Superstar and I remember thinking that if the son of God was wearing a beard, there might be something to it. Chuck Heston had a beard in Planet of the Apes, Al Pacino was bearded in Serpico, Obi Wan Kenobi rocked a face carpet in Star Wars, Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson, Barry Gibbs of the Bee Gees, George Harrison’s beard on the album All Things Must Pass was impressive to say the least…
Looking back on you life, what novels or pieces of pop culture significantly shaped who you are?
And are there any other bearded middle-aged men out there who are still secretly in love with Nova? Just curious – I might start a support group.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.
Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!