Rejoice with me for I have been reunited with a childhood love. I would guess I was given this collection when I was 6 or 7. That’s a pretty exciting cover, isn’t it? Even by modern standards. That’s what stuck in my mind over all the years. Not all the stories are sf, but the ones that are were key in my sfnal development. There is one story set on a ship travelling to a colony world, but the kids still have to have schooling (in a conventional school room with desks and blackboard, natch). Because someone had told the author that space is weightless, all the boys wear weighted boots to keep their feet on the floor. Um. I have to thank my father for explaining to his 8-year-old son what was wrong with that notion.
The heroes of the story illustrated on the cover are famous for being the first kids born in space. Until then it had never occurred to me that if space colonies were to become routine then, yes, some kid would have to be first. I certainly didn’t know that one day I would write a joke into a novel – the so-far sadly unpublished sequel to Phoenicia’s Worlds – about the Adam & Eve Club, even more exclusive than the Five Mile High one, for the first couples to have sex on a new planet. (I suppose factionalism might set in over whether or not to admit couples who have had sex on a permanently settled space station. I haven’t through it through that deeply.)
Every now and then over the last 40-odd years I’ve thought about the collection, usually when something reminds me of one of the stories, and every now and then over the last 20-odd years I’ve thought about seeing if I can get hold of another copy. But I couldn’t remember the precise title, except that it really was as generic as it turned out to be, and Google isn’t going to home in on a phrase like that with laser-like precision. Then one day I was browsing a second hand bookshop and noted the Hamlyn imprint on a spine. Hamlyn! Yes, I remembered my book had that too, even though at the time I had no idea what it meant. So I searched for boys stories + Hamlyn, switched on the image search to look at covers as opposed to clicking through links – and there it was on Abebooks. Interesting that some stories I remembered perfectly, some were suddenly “oh, yes!”, and some I couldn’t remember ever reading before. And that ends this review of a book none of you will read.