It was an old Larry Niven one--"Smoke Ring"--I ran into it when I was filling up some vacant space in a bookcase with stuff from a box of books that was mostly hardbacks--I must have been flush or something 'cause I usually bought all science fiction and all fantasy from Los Angeles days from the Hobbit--can't remember the real name of it but for years it was the biggest second hand (and new stuff) fantasy and sci fi on the west coast.
Hadn't read it in years and had just read about two dozen mysteries and mystery thrillers in a row so I needed a change.
It's way easier to find decently written mysteries than it is to find really good hard-core science fiction. Much less really high quality fantasy.
Um that bookstore was really called "A Change of Hobbit".
I started reading SF when I was about 10 yo. Andre Norton was an author of "youth" SF. I gobbled it up. Later other good SF authors were of value in "indoctrinating " young readers.
Robert Heinlein's Have Spacesuit Will Travel comes to mind. A takeoff the 50's western TV show Have Gun Will Travel.It used to keep me awake at night while I was reading it.
I was hooked. Issac Asimov, Arthur C Clark, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K.Dick. Name your poison.
I used to get in trouble for sliding an SF behind by textbook and reading while in class.
For a while, after the classic authors of the genre, there was a bit of a void.
Sure... There were some pretty good authors.
Roger Zelazny (sp?), Greg Bear, Vernor Vinge, Dan Simmons and of course Michael Crighton all come to mind. I never was fond of Ursula LeGuin.
Then in the 80's.... Boom! my mind is blown again.
William Gibson. Cyberpunk. I read Neuromancer back to back to back. Do you have any idea the number of computer related "terms"that he invented in his early novels that are in the common lexicon today? Blows me away.
Same with Neil Stephenson. What great stuff.
I don't read too much contemporary SF these days. I will look up the Hugo and Nebula winners, run over to Powell's and check them out
Maybe I am just too old to have my vision expanded LOL.