Can you identify a long-forgotten book from my childhood?
January 31, 2011 2:17 PM   Subscribe

[childhood book filter] Can you identify this science-fiction book I read as a child?

As a kid, I read a science-fiction book which I really enjoyed, but I've forgotten the title. If I provide some vague details, can you fill in the rest?

I believe the protagonist was a teenage boy. He might have been Australian, and his name might have started with a J. I seem to recall that he lived with relatives other than his parents. One night, he wakes up to see that a flying saucer has landed in his backyard. There was a vivid description of his approaching the window to see this massive silver craft on the back lawn, I think. He goes to investigate and is transported...somewhere.

I probably read this book between 1995 and 1997, but I have a vague sense that it was "old" then, which could mean it was published long before I came upon it. It could also mean that I was seven and anything older than I was felt positively antiquated.

Also noteworthy is the fact that I was a rather precocious reader and read anything I could find. I was checking out books from the "grownup" section of the library by first grade, so the book in question may not be a young adult title.

If you can help me, I'll be forever grateful! :)
posted by easy, lucky, free to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
The ufo landing in the backyard sounds like Invaders from Mars, which was made into a book after the movie. The other details are off, so this is probably not what you're thinking of.
posted by Sufi at 2:49 PM on January 31, 2011

In "The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree," a kid living with his grandparents finds that a spaceship has landed in the orchard behind the house. I'm not sure if there's a vivid description of this, and the book might be "younger" than what you're looking for, but that's the first thing I thought of re: your description.
posted by OolooKitty at 2:51 PM on January 31, 2011

Was it Robert A Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel?
posted by phelixshu at 2:52 PM on January 31, 2011

That sounds like a Heinlein thing, but doesn't quite match Have Spacesuit Will Travel. (Matches boy, yard, spaceship; but the boy in question is American, named Kip and is primed for adventure by having a spacesuit to play with.)
posted by feckless at 2:52 PM on January 31, 2011

Doesn't really match either The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree, or Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, but I'd be interested in knowing what it is, too. I was thinking Rusty's Spaceship buy that's even further off the mark. All of the above are from the 50s anyway.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 4:20 PM on January 31, 2011

BUT, dammit. EDIT!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 4:20 PM on January 31, 2011

Perhaps Nicholas Fisk's Space Hostages? Was the ship piloted by a man who stole it, and who is dying of radiation poisoning? Do they eat food dispensed by a sort of automatic kitchen?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:31 PM on January 31, 2011

It doesn't match any of these, I don't think, but it does seem Heinleinesque.

I can't find a synopsis of Space Hostages, but I don't really remember any of the plot beyond what I've summarized above.

Thanks for your help so far, everyone.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 5:10 PM on January 31, 2011

The only thing that comes to mind is Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubenstein.
posted by Anima Mundi at 5:15 PM on January 31, 2011

Was it Dolphin Island by Arthur C. Clarke?
posted by mogget at 7:25 PM on January 31, 2011

Oh mogget, you're right! I can't believe it.

I vaguely remembered an island and some dolphins, but I thought I might be conflating multiple plot lines, so I didn't mention it.

I wish you could see my face right now. Tears of happiness! Wow!
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:11 PM on January 31, 2011

I even found the edition that I read years ago!

Life is good. Thanks again, mogget and everyone else.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:16 PM on January 31, 2011

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