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SFF Author: Frederik Pohl

(1919-2013)
Frederik George Pohl, Jr. is an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy and its sister magazine If; the latter won three successive annual Hugo Awards as the year’s best professional magazine. His 1977 novel Gateway won four “year’s best novel” awards: the Hugo voted by convention participants, the Locus voted by magazine subscribers, the Nebula voted by American science fiction writers, and the juried academic John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He won the Campbell Memorial Award again for the 1984 collection of novellas Years of the City, the only repeat winner in forty years. For his 1979 novel Jem , Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-year category Science Fiction. It was a finalist for three other year’s best novel awards. In all he has won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards. Pohl became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993 and he was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1998. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2010, for his blog “The Way the Future Blogs”.



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The Space Merchants: A classic science fiction satire

The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl & Cyril M. Kornbluth

It is pretty obvious that the debasement of the human mind caused by a constant flow of fraudulent advertising is no trivial thing. There is more than one way to conquer a country. ~Raymond Chandler

I read The Space Merchants, a classic science fiction satire about advertising and consumerism run rampant in a future world, before my sister got me to watch the popular cable TV show Mad Men,


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Man Plus: Puzzling and enjoyable

Man Plus by Frederik Pohl

In the 1970s Frederik Pohl produced a number of highly regarded science fiction novels. Man Plus, which earned a Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1976, shows its age just a bit but I still found it very much worth reading.

In the near future, as seen from the 1970s, we may well be there now, the world is in a pretty bad shape. The sheer size of the human population the earth has to support has put a strain on the resources available.


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Gateway: Science fiction with depth and purpose

Gateway by Frederik Pohl

At heart a psychological drama which explores one man’s attempts at dealing with the negative aspects of existentialism (what Sarte called “nausea”), Gateway nonetheless utilizes the tools of science fiction for effect. Less than 300 pages, the tropes of each are blended perfectly in succinct fashion so as to satisfy the readers of both genres.

After finding an abandoned alien base deep in an asteroid, humanity has learned the basics of piloting the remaining spaceships. Emphasis on the word “basics,” not all the important details of light speed have been mastered,


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Jem: A cynical speculation about humanity’s future

Jem by Frederik Pohl

Like Man Plus (1976) and Gateway (1977), books which Frederik Pohl a number of awards, Jem (1979) is another book from this highly successful period in Pohl’s career. It was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards but didn’t win. It did win a National Book Award.

Jem is set in the near future (as seen from the late 1970s). The world is divided in three large blocs of nations: the food-exporting nations,


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Platinum Pohl: The Collected Best Stories

Platinum Pohl: The Collected Best Stories by Frederik Pohl

Platinum Pohl is a career-spanning collection of Frederik Pohl’s best short fiction. Almost every collection of short fiction contains weak stories but I was absolutely blown away by editor James Frenkel’s selection of Pohl’s work. It is one of the best collections of short fiction I have ever read.

Platinum Pohl contains a total of thirty stories, too many to comment on each of them but I’ll name a number of the highlights.


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The Last Theorem: Arthur C. Clarke’s last novel

The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke & Frederik Pohl

In March 2008 one of the titans of science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90. At the time he was working on The Last Theorem, a collaboration with another big name in science fiction, the slightly younger Frederik Pohl who died in 2013. Clarke’s health would not permit him to do the writing himself so much of the novel was written by Pohl based on an outline and notes by Clarke.


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All the Lives He Led: Good, but not up to Pohl’s usual standard

All the Lives He Led by Frederik Pohl

Frederik Pohl sold his first work in 1937; seventy-four years later, a new novel hit the selves. I don’t think many authors can boast such a long career. I’ve read several of Pohl’s novels as well as Platinum Pohl, a best of collection of short fiction, and I very much like the often slightly satiric nature of his work. The second half of the 1970s are usually considered the best period in his writing career,


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The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus: An all-star lineup

The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus edited by Brian W. Aldiss

The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973) is a compilation of three short story anthologies: Penguin Science Fiction (1961), More Penguin Science Fiction (1963), and Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964), all edited by Brian Aldiss. Presenting an all-star lineup of established Silver Age and burgeoning New Age writers, most all are well known names in the field, including Isaac Asimov


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Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors

Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin Greenberg

Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as Weird Tales is today remembered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a “Who’s Who” of 20th century horror and fantasy literature.


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The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey‘s other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of “fabril” literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the “smith”


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Science Fiction Super Pack #1: A generally above-average anthology

Science Fiction Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Like the companion fantasy volume, Science Fiction Super Pack #1, edited by Warren Lapine, only has one story I didn’t think was good, and it’s a piece of Lovecraft fanfiction. H.P. Lovecraft‘s overwrought prose doesn’t do much for me even when Lovecraft himself writes it, and much less so when it’s attempted by imitators. And Lovecraft’s stories at least have something frightening that happens in them; these two stories (in this volume and the other) only have visions of aspects of the Mythos and crazy people ranting,


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Fantasy Super Pack #1: Something for everyone

Fantastic Stories Presents: Fantasy Super Pack #1 edited by Warren Lapine

Fantasy Super Pack #1 , which is available for 99c in Kindle format, is an enormous collection of 34 stories presumably showcasing the taste of the editor of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, an online magazine. As I’m interested in submitting to the magazine, I picked it up, and thoroughly enjoyed most of the stories, none of which I remembered reading before though I’d heard of several of them.

I like stories that have a narrative arc,


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Next SFF Author: Daniel Polansky
Previous SFF Author: Edgar Allan Poe

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