Six sf luminaries tell how they came to their nefarious trade--a surprisingly similar route, in most cases. The prevailing pattern starts with a lonely and intellectually precocious childhood: four of the contributors were only children, and virtually everyone mentions slow physical development, difficulty in making friends, and a passionate commitment to the escape-world of books. (Brian Aldiss, the happy exception, records a glorious sausage-roll-and-mince-pie English boyhood.) Most did not so much discover sf as find themselves possessed by it before the age of ten or twelve; nearly all were sending off their first stories or organizing ""fanzines"" before they left their teens. Their subsequent courses diverge a bit more. Only Robert Silverberg--in his early period of unabashed potboilers--achieved immediate self-sufficiency as an sf writer. The rest served time as editors (Frederik Pohl), TV scriptwriters (Alfred Bester), illustrators (Harry Harrison, Damon Knight), and all-purpose assembly-line components (almost everybody). Most think of their early careers in terms of industrious hackwork, and rejoice in the more serious attitude toward sf ushered in by Amis' New Maps of Hell (1960). There are some marvelous reminiscences (notably Knight's) of the New York scene during John Campbell's editorship of Astounding--the so-called Golden Age. A nice idea, agreeably executed.