Small Town Boys, Friends for Life.
Gary K. Wolf (left) and John J. Myers in the Earlville, Illinois high school library in 1959. A copy of Space Hawk, the first science fiction novel they read, is somewhere on the shelves behind them.
Archbishop John J. Myers and Gary K. Wolf in Rome
Two School Boys Discover Science Fiction
I grew up in the fly speck farm town of Earlville, Illinois, population 1,406. There were only 25 kids in my school class. Lucky for me one of them was John Myers. John was then, and still is, my best friend.
There wasn't a whole lot for kids to do in Earlville. You had to pretty much make your own fun. For John and me, fun was reading. We started with comic books. (Our favorite? The outrageously frugal Scrooge McDuck. Like Scrooge, we collected and saved huge balls of used string. I still have mine!) Eventually we graduated to books containing more words than pictures. John's tastes tended toward fact, mine toward fiction. He read true-life historical adventures. I went for stories like Treasure Island, Ivanhoe, Robin Hood.
I remember one especially significant literary incident from our youth. It was 1953. We were in the seventh grade. John brought me a book he had just finished. "You've got to read this," he told me. "You're going to love it. It's science, and it's fiction! It's Science Fiction." That book was Anthony Gilmore's 1951 adventure saga Space Hawk.
As always, John was right. I read Space Hawk, and I did love it, just as much as he had. Because of Space Hawk, John and I both sought out and read books by other writers in this, to us, new and exotic genre. We discovered a whole brave new world of speculating giants, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Phillip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, William Tenn. Two farm-town boys, both hooked on wondrous postulations of life in the future. Imaginary worlds. Incredible machines. Astounding creatures. Amazing visions. Science AND fiction. Science Fiction.
I'm not exaggerating when I say Space Hawk changed my life. I grew to love Science Fiction so much that in later years, I wrote and published Science Fiction stories and novels of my own. Without Space Hawk I would never have created Roger Rabbit. One led directly to the other.
A few years ago John and I both re-read Space Hawk. It was still enjoyable, but we weren't as enthralled this time. The book was obviously several short stories loosely knitted together. The plotting was shaky and the characters less than fully formed. Still, it had grabbed us by the throats and had never let us go.
I told John we ought to collaborate on a science fiction novel of our own. A story that was more like the one we remembered rather than the one we actually read. To my great joy, John said, "Let's do it."
And so we did.
Space Vulture is not a retelling of Space Hawk but rather a reimagining of it. We crafted the kind of story that would have enthralled and intrigued us when we were young. It's a story of high adventure with a cruel and merciless villain, an impossibly brave hero, and a struggling family played out across some of the most interesting reaches of space.
I like our science fiction novel as well as that first one I ever read.
I hope you do, too.
Gary K. Wolf
Creator of Roger Rabbit
A postcard showing the main street of Earlville, Illinois, boyhood home town of Gary K. Wolf and John J. Myers.
Two Old Friends Fulfill A Dream
Many critics consider Science Fiction to be a trivial pastime best suited to the overly active imaginations of naive and undemanding adolescents. I believe Science Fiction is much more. It's a time-honored, dynamic and interesting way for writers to explore the infinite realm of possibilities, discuss unusual or controversial ideas, and use futuristic concepts to give readers a deeper understanding of society, civilization, race, religion, and the human condition. Science Fiction is an art form, and like the best art has the real potential to ennoble the human spirit.
Gary Wolf and I always had a close friendship. Our Earlville years were pleasant times for both of us. We enjoyed our studies and were good students. We shared interests in music, photography, sports, movies, books, science, and above all else, reading. We even shared our families. Gary was an only child, I was the oldest of seven. My mother and father treated Gary as one of their own. His mother and father did the same for me. I frequently ate at the Wolf’s. On Fridays, Gary’s mother, Hattie, would adjust the menu in their Lutheran household so that there was fish for the Catholic friend. Even today, my family regards Gary and his wife Bonnie as part of the Myers clan.
It's been thrilling for me over the years to watch as Gary became a well known Science Fiction writer. I am an avid fan of his work.
Gary accurately described our childhood encounter with Space Hawk. For as far back as I can remember, reading has always been one of my favorite pastimes. I still read voraciously. Nowadays my reading is mainly theology although I do make time for Science Fiction which I still greatly enjoy. Collaborating with Gary on this new Science Fiction novel has been satisfying for me on several levels. It has given me the opportunity to help create an exciting, interesting, and morally principled tale in one of my favorite genres. It has also provided the opportunity to renew and deepen one of my oldest and dearest friendships.
I certainly hope that those who read our story come away with a fraction of the pleasure which Gary and I found in writing it.
+Most Reverend John J. Myers
Archbishop of Newark
P.S. Gary and I really did have a Scrooge McDuck Club when we were in high school. As I remember it, my ball of string grew much more rapidly than his. One day we will have to have a final reckoning.
On the left, a postcard showing the Earlville, Illinois water works which Gary and John went by every day on their way to school. On the right, the water tower as the two boys saw it in their imagination.