For strange reasons I still don't quite comprehend, I decided when young that there was too much to read, and so I would read only what I enjoyed. Perhaps an illustration of the ways in which we can justify whatever odd decisions we make. Anyway, this meant an excuse as to why the only books I bought outside outrageously expensive medical textbooks were science fiction. Frankly, it made me very happy to go around the local secondhand bookshops with a weekly budget of £1 and buy whatever I could fit in that pound note that would last me for a week. Don't believe anyone who tells you medical students have to work hard all hours. Once you get in, you will pass. If you got in honestly, the work is easy. You have to find something to occupy the rest of the day.
I really liked Heinlein, barely tolerated Asimov who was too simplistic, and felt pretty neutral about Clarke. Eventually, I focused on a few writers that really never disappointed me, and they have probably been lost since those days. For example Edmund Cooper, Bob Shaw and Richard Cowper. John Brunner too, for Stand on Zanzibar. Maybe John Christopher for The Death of Grass. Cooper did a nice alternative history that was much like Keith Roberts' Pavane, in The Cloud Walker. He also did some strikingly misogynist things, like Five to Twelve and Who Needs Men? Shaw wasn't a skilled writer, but like many an SF writer, had good ideas that he couldn't do justice to in his stories. Fire Pattern and Light of Other Days come to mind. Perhaps that is a notable characteristic of SF: authors whose plot ideas far outstrip their literary ability. Probably have to go to Amis père et fils, Ian McEwen and Iain Banks to get SF plots that are matched to writing ability.
I still have shelves of SF paperbacks that I bought then, and still sometimes re-read a favourite whilst I wait for a film to be scanned in the Flextight. Somewhere in 1977, I abandoned buying more SF, as I had been exposed to my father-in-law-to-be's bookshelves. Nicholson's The Age of Reason, and rather ridiculously, Robert Ardrey's The Social Contract, led me on to their progenitors. Thomas Paine and Jean Jacques Rousseau are heady stuff for a youngster. As I moved away from SF, I was vaguely aware that I was losing very little in that all that I could extract from it was already mine. It isn't a real field with real developments, only speculations. Frankly, I don't give much of a hoot for the speculations of diversely genderfluid snowflakes, so there wasn't much to lose. I've learned more about human nature from Anthony Trollope and Thomas Hardy since then than I had learned from all the SF writers combined. Ultimately, I have confirmed that I should read what I enjoy, but don't know what I shall enjoy until I try it! No doubt PZ and his shitty brain won't begin to understand this, but the act of reading is not a political act: it is simply occupying yourself in whatever way you find entertaining. Pretty much the same as making a pot of tea. Hard to keep the horde of commenters happy that way, when it is easier to try to portray each book as a brave stand against the order of the world; a revolutionary act that risks the reader's life for the benefit of the downtrodden. Well, I'm sure politically correct science fiction will sell as well as The Happy Atheist, and deserves to do so. I'll not be told what I can read, what I can enjoy, and what I can laugh at (vide a recent WEIT thread).