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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Frederik Pohl

Frederik Pohl - Gateway

Frederik Pohl – Gateway (First of the Heechee series)

Please Note: When I began this series, it was to cover a lot of authors whom I have found personally influential, even though this may only be because I enjoyed the stories they have told in their books or short stories. I’m just fortunate enough and well read enough that many of the authors I have personally enjoyed have also been influential on a macro scale as well as micro. rrt

When I started to write this diary, I could think of a couple of books that I had read from Frederik Pohl but when I started going through his titles, I was a bit surprised that I had as many as I had, even though they were still only a fraction of his writing output. Here’s his wiki intro:

Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (/?po?l/; November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013) was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning more than seventy-five years—from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna”, to the 2011 novel All the Lives He Led and articles and essays published in 2012.[1]

…snip…

The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993[4] and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998, its third class of two dead and two living writers.[5][a]


Pohl’s NY Times obituary had some interesting details:

Mr. Pohl was involved in publishing since he was a teenager, when he served as a literary agent for his science fiction-writing young friends. He went on to edit magazines and books before finding renown as a writer, often with collaborators.

…snip…

Mr. Pohl’s grasp of science was impressive; although entirely self-taught, he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1982. He was also in demand as a so-called futurist, speaking to business executives and other audiences about the shape of things to come in a science-dominated future — and about the unreliability of even short-range predictions.

…snip…

With a handful of like-minded young men, including Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Damon Knight and Mr. Kornbluth, Mr. Pohl threw himself into the burgeoning phenomenon of science fiction fandom. In 1936 he and a dozen other enthusiasts gathered in the back room of a bar in Philadelphia for what many regard as the world’s first science fiction “convention.”

The Washington Post obituary put Pohl’s career this way:

Mr. Pohl touched on many common sci-fi themes in his writing: interplanetary travel, overpopulation, cryogenic preservation, cities under domes, parallel universes and colonies on Mars. But he may be most important as a pioneer of what has been called the “anti-utopian” branch of science fiction — or “sf,” as its aficionados often call it — in which an outwardly well-organized society disintegrates from internal pressures, rivalries and greed.

His first major novel, “The Space Merchants” (1953), written with Cyril Kornbluth, was built around the idea that the values of business and advertising had replaced governments, creating disastrous effects.

“They invented and played with ‘Sociological SF’ — alternate futures here on Earth, exaggerating and satirizing real-life social ­forces and trends,” author and critic Charles Platt wrote in “Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction.”

My bold. Seems like Pohl was one of those who could read a bit of human nature, although his work is set much further into the future than we are currently living.

I really have no idea which of Pohl’s works was my first read of his. I do think it was while I was in the USAF, stationed in Hawai’i as that is when I dove headlong into the world of sci-fi. I know I read his two book Space Merchants series, the first of which titled The Space Merchants was a collaboration with Cyril Kornbluth while the second book, The Merchant’s War was Pohl’s alone. I’ve also read a couple of his Heechee books, Gateway and Heechee Rendezvouz.

Among the stand-alone books from Pohl that I have read are The Coming of the Quantum Cats, The Cool War (set in the 2020s so we’ll soon know how close he may be to reality here,) Narabedla, Ltd and Gladiator-at-Law.

Pohl also authored an impressive number of short stories. Many of the short stories were published in magazines that Pohl edited including Astonishing Stories, Super Science Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, and If. He was also a contributor to numerous anthologies over the years including a number of Best of… Sci-fi/Fantasy collections.


Picture from RA.AZ licensed under Creative Commons

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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Frederik Pohl

Frederik Pohl - Gateway

Frederik Pohl – Gateway (First of the Heechee series)

Please Note: When I began this series, it was to cover a lot of authors whom I have found personally influential, even though this may only be because I enjoyed the stories they have told in their books or short stories. I’m just fortunate enough and well read enough that many of the authors I have personally enjoyed have also been influential on a macro scale as well as micro. rrt

When I started to write this diary, I could think of a couple of books that I had read from Frederik Pohl but when I started going through his titles, I was a bit surprised that I had as many as I had, even though they were still only a fraction of his writing output. Here’s his wiki intro:

Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (/?po?l/; November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013) was an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning more than seventy-five years—from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna”, to the 2011 novel All the Lives He Led and articles and essays published in 2012.[1]

…snip…

The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993[4] and he was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998, its third class of two dead and two living writers.[5][a]

Pohl’s NY Times obituary had some interesting details:

Mr. Pohl was involved in publishing since he was a teenager, when he served as a literary agent for his science fiction-writing young friends. He went on to edit magazines and books before finding renown as a writer, often with collaborators.

…snip…

Mr. Pohl’s grasp of science was impressive; although entirely self-taught, he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1982. He was also in demand as a so-called futurist, speaking to business executives and other audiences about the shape of things to come in a science-dominated future — and about the unreliability of even short-range predictions.

…snip…

With a handful of like-minded young men, including Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Damon Knight and Mr. Kornbluth, Mr. Pohl threw himself into the burgeoning phenomenon of science fiction fandom. In 1936 he and a dozen other enthusiasts gathered in the back room of a bar in Philadelphia for what many regard as the world’s first science fiction “convention.”

The Washington Post obituary put Pohl’s career this way:

Mr. Pohl touched on many common sci-fi themes in his writing: interplanetary travel, overpopulation, cryogenic preservation, cities under domes, parallel universes and colonies on Mars. But he may be most important as a pioneer of what has been called the “anti-utopian” branch of science fiction — or “sf,” as its aficionados often call it — in which an outwardly well-organized society disintegrates from internal pressures, rivalries and greed.

His first major novel, “The Space Merchants” (1953), written with Cyril Kornbluth, was built around the idea that the values of business and advertising had replaced governments, creating disastrous effects.

“They invented and played with ‘Sociological SF’ — alternate futures here on Earth, exaggerating and satirizing real-life social ­forces and trends,” author and critic Charles Platt wrote in “Dream Makers: The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction.”

My bold. Seems like Pohl was one of those who could read a bit of human nature, although his work is set much further into the future than we are currently living.

I really have no idea which of Pohl’s works was my first read of his. I do think it was while I was in the USAF, stationed in Hawai’i as that is when I dove headlong into the world of sci-fi. I know I read his two book Space Merchants series, the first of which titled The Space Merchants was a collaboration with Cyril Kornbluth while the second book, The Merchant’s War was Pohl’s alone. I’ve also read a couple of his Heechee books, Gateway and Heechee Rendezvouz.

Among the stand-alone books from Pohl that I have read are The Coming of the Quantum Cats, The Cool War (set in the 2020s so we’ll soon know how close he may be to reality here,) Narabedla, Ltd and Gladiator-at-Law.

Pohl also authored an impressive number of short stories. Many of the short stories were published in magazines that Pohl edited including Astonishing Stories, Super Science Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, and If. He was also a contributor to numerous anthologies over the years including a number of Best of… Sci-fi/Fantasy collections.

(more…)

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dakine01

dakine01

Small town Kentucky country boy lived all over the country. Currently in Ruskin, FL