I have found that one of the greatest joys of parenting is when you finally get to introduce your kids to something you loved as a child and find that they love it just as much as you did. We had some of that earlier this year with Alaric when I finally rented the Transformers movie (which I had never before seen). Alaric was an instant fan. We’re going through it now with Treanna, only this time, we’re introducing her to some of the books I loved when I was her age.
We started with some of the fantastic novels by Robin McKinley: The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown. I’ve read those out loud to the kids, so I knew she’d groove on them, but she devoured TH&tC in a day, prompting some wonderful discussions. I think it’s safe to say, no matter how much of a cliche it might be, that I am getting more out of the books now that I have someone to explain them to for the first time.
Next, I introduced her to one of my favorite series: the Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey, part of her Dragonriders of Pern series. The Harper Hall trilogy is specifically written as YA (young adult) and it’s got firelizards — plus, it’s a more accessible introduction to the world of Pern than the full series, which can be quite scary for young readers. So while Dragonsong and Dragonsinger introduce Thread (and we see fire lizard hatchlings get caught in Thread, giving a demonstration of just how horrible this phenomenon is), touch peripherally on the events that bring catatonic Brekke to the Hatching Sands of Benden Weyr to face up to the loss of her dragon, and give a glimpse into the fantastic peril that F’nor and Canth find waiting for them at the Red Star, the books do so from a stepped-back perspective. History is being made and the viewpoint characters witness it, but not directly. These provide familiar events when the reader later returns in Dragonquest, yet the fact that they are somewhat known territory helps soften the emotional blow. Treanna has been devouring these books and is quite interested in the backstory of Pern and the physiology of the fire lizards, which gives us a convenient platform to launch future discussions on such diverse topics as animal mating behavior and human sexuality, economics, education, personal integrity, and more.
So, I’ve been assembling the next few sets of books to recommend to her. Along the way, I’ve been populating my Amazon wishlist with a few books that I remember reading when I was a kid, with the intention of filling in a few gaps in our collection. (I’ve already got Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Sylvia Louise Engdahl, the one or two Roald Dahl books I actually like, and more.) However, there are two books that I cannot find any sign of, and I turn to you, members of the blogosphere, to help me track them down.
Please feel free to post this following section on your blogs, complete with a link back to this post. Any help you can give me will be much appreciated. The books I’m looking for — I remember only two of them, although there could be three — are young adult science fiction published sometime in the late 70s to mid 80s (no later than 1986 and most likely in the 1981-1985 timeframe although don’t quote me on that). They told the story of a young boy in a compound who one day discovers that there is another boy who looks just like him. They manage to find ways to talk and discover they are clones. One is being trained as a scientist, the other (I believe) as an artist or musician (possibly athlete?). At the end of the first book, they escape the compound and are on the run. In the second book, they are re-captured, largely through the help of a third clone, who has been trained in military/security work. The names are Russian or Eastern European in feel — Stephen, perhaps, and Nicholas/Nicholai — and there’s a definite Soviet/Cold War flavor. I have gone nuts trying to find any hint of information on these books; they may not be great literature, but they were fun reads. I’ve tried Google and the Internet SF Database with no luck so far. Thank you in advance.