A few hours ago in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the American Astronautical Society (AAS) named Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? winner of the 2009 Eugene M. Emme Award for Astronautical Literature for Young Adults. And I wasn't there. Between workload and finances and other things, I decided I couldn't make the cross-country trip to the AAS Annual Conference. But I do get to put that nifty gold-foil sticker (above) on my book, and understand that a plaque will be on its way to me soon.
I'm not fishing for kudos, since I already announced this honor a while ago. However, I did want to share my acceptance speech, which AAS Executive Director Jim Kirkpatrick offered to have the society president read when my name was announced. Here's what I sent him (and don't know if he or anyone else had a chance to read on my behalf):
The books I read as a boy and teenager made me an amateur astronomer, physics major, environmental chemist, and science writer. They made me fall in love with science long before I ever took a real science class. The powerful influence of good books on young minds is important and worth recognizing. And the idea that my book might help educate and influence someone reading it today, young or old, is the most gratifying honor I can imagine.
Thanks very much.
When I visualized saying that in person, I always followed with a list of the books that were most important to me when I was young, most of which I still have. The Universe and Mr. Einstein (Barnett), Red Giants and White Dwarfs (Jastrow), Mariner IV to Mars (Ley), One Two Three Infinity (Gamow), Cosmos (Sagan), and scads more. If I were feeling impish, I might've even mentioned You Will Go To The Moon (Freeman and Freeman). They made a difference in my life, and if I had to distill what I hope both my books accomplish into one sentence, it'd be that they make a difference in somebody else's.
That's pretty sappy but I'm standing by it.
Thanks again to the AAS, I appreciate the Emme Award probably more than you can imagine.