Old pictures, part 2: a science fiction writer in the making

I wasn’t always a science fiction writer, even if I wanted to be. In going through and digitizing some old photos yesterday (some of which I have already posted), I found a bunch of pictures of me and the family when I was much younger. Some of these are pretty goofy photos and I thought it might make for an amusing Sunday morning or early afternoon (depending on where you are) to post a few of these. You might even decide to compare them to my author photo so you can get a complete, er, picture of the evolution of this particular writer.

I’ll start with an early one, in which the pre-science fiction-writing Jamie Todd Rubin gleefully attacks a large panda bear. (And this would explain that urge I had to play with the Pandas the last time I was at the National Zoo):

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Me and my pal at around 1 year old

For whatever reason, it is important for writers–and this includes science fiction writers–to have a good photo. This photo is often used in publicity, on websites, or on the jacket to your latest best-selling novel. Here is an early attempt at an author’s photo that is, admittedly, a bit dated now:

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Me, looking rather '70s

Writers have egos. If you’ve lived with a writer for any amount of time you know this. Part of this stems from the nature of writing–it is a very lonely business, sure–but you are creating something that you think is good enough for other people to read and enjoy. I suppose this is true of any art form. But if you’ve been to a science fiction convention, you know that there are some writers who just seem to have to take center-stage all the time. You can see a little bit of this in the photo that follows. It was supposed to be a cute picture of my younger brother, Doug, in all of his toddler adorableness. But as you can see, I couldn’t resist sticking my head into the shot and getting what attention I could:

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Me and Doug

Despite writing being a lonely business, no writer is really ever alone. They have other writers to talk to, friends, spouses, children. And of course, they have a family in which they group up. Here is my family. This picture, taken in 1975 I believe was part of a big misunderstanding. As it was explained to me, it was supposed to be a publicity shot for an appearance I was to make on Dick Cavet to promote a novel I would be writing 40 years later. At least, that’s what my parents told me. Turns out it was a ruse to get me to sit still for a family photo. (And in case there is any confusion, I am not the one with the mustache):

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The family in 1975

Finally, some pictures absolutely require a story to go along with them. This next one, humiliating as it is, is one such photo. This was a school photo. I’m not sure if it was from Kindergarten or first grade. Apparently, I would smile with my mouth closed back then and for reasons known only to Satan, that was not acceptable to a elementary school photographer. I clearly remember him saying to me, “Show your teeth when you smile.” So I showed some teeth.

Now, I feel like I followed his instructions to the best of my ability at the time. Why on Earth he decided to take this particular shot of me I will never know, but all I can say is that it was done in a mean-spirited way, probably by an underpaid fellow who’d spent the entire week having to deal with a bunch of whiny kids and decided to take out his frustrations on me. And if you think this is a big lead-up to a photo, well, then see for yourself:

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There's a story behind this goofy look... honest!

Is that the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever seen? Am I wrong?