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Previous SFF Author: Robert Silverberg

SFF Author: Clifford D. Simak

(1904-1988)
Clifford D. Simak won three Hugo Awards and one Nebula Award. He was the third named SFWA Grand Master and won the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. Simak was born in Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and his wife had 2 children.
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Cosmic Engineers: Simak’s first novel

Cosmic Engineers by Clifford D. Simak

Every great novelist has to begin somewhere, and for future sci-fi Grand Master Clifford D. Simak, that beginning was his first novel, Cosmic Engineers. This is not to say, of course, that this novel was the first attempt at writing that Simak had ever made. Far from it, as a matter of fact. Cosmic Engineers originally appeared as a three-part serial in the February – April 1939 issues of John W.


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First He Died: No Excedrin needed

First He Died by Clifford D. Simak

As I think I may have mentioned elsewhere, stories about time travel can sometimes give me a headache right between the eyes. And really, who among us hasn’t, at one time or another, come close to getting a major-league migraine when trying to suss out the temporal conundrums inherent in many of these tales? Fortunately for me — and my head — the novel that I have just experienced is one that does indeed feature time travel in its story line, but that lays out its complexities in a manner that leaves the reader blissfully headache free.


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City: Pastoral SF classic where Rover takes over

City by Clifford D. Simak

City is a well-loved classic by Clifford D. Simak published back in 1952 and awarded the International Fantasy Award in 1954. It’s actually a collection of linked far-future stories written between 1944 and 1951 about men, mutants, dogs, robots, ants and stranger beings still. It’s told as a series of episodes that trace the evolution of the various species as they reach out to space, but also follows the fates of those groups that remain on Earth.

I would describe Simak’s writing style as “pastoral,” “contemplative,” “philosophical,” and “understated,” and as he was born in rural Wisconsin,


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The Worlds of Clifford Simak: Finely wrought tales from a future grand master

The Worlds of Clifford Simak by Clifford D. Simak

A recent perusal of Clifford D. Simak’s wonderful collection All the Traps of Earth (from 1962) served to remind this reader of how very excellent the beloved Wisconsin-born novelist could be with the shorter form, and I resolved to read more of his stories in the near future. Thus, when I spotted a rather beat-up copy of his collection The Worlds of Clifford Simak (no middle initial here,


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Time Is the Simplest Thing: Fast-paced and imaginative, with an important message

Time Is the Simplest Thing by Clifford D. Simak

Written s(i)mack-dab in the middle of the American Civil Rights Movement, Clifford D. Simak’s Time Is the Simplest Thing utilizes the tools of science fiction to make poignant comments on the issues of the day. The novel, the author’s sixth out of an eventual 29, was initially serialized in the May – July 1961 issues of Analog magazine with the equally appropriate title The Fisherman, and went on to be nominated for that year’s Hugo Award.


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They Walked Like Men: Simak bowls a strike

They Walked Like Men by Clifford D. Simak

In the history of the science fiction novel, there have been any number of depictions of invaders from other worlds trying to conquer good ol’ Mother Earth, be it with brute force and death rays (as in H.G. Wells’ seminal novel of 1898, The War of the Worlds) or more insidiously (as in Jack Finney’s 1955 masterpiece of paranoia, Invasion of the Body Snatchers).


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All the Traps of Earth: 9 expertly told stories from a sci-fi grand master

All the Traps of Earth by Clifford D. Simak

Looking back, it strikes me with some surprise that, up until very recently, I had not read any of sci-fi Grand Master Clifford D. Simak’s shorter work in over 40 years. Oh, I had read any number of the author’s novels during those four decades, but since reading his 1968 collection So Bright the Vision back in 1981, none of his work of a shorter length. Coming to my rescue in this regard was the Wisconsin-born writer’s All the Traps of Earth,


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Other Worlds of Clifford Simak: From zebra charms to walking vines

Other Worlds of Clifford Simak by Clifford D. Simak

Other Worlds of Clifford Simak is the companion volume to the 1961 Avon paperback The Worlds of Clifford Simak, a collection that had recently impressed me very favorably. As I mentioned in my review of that earlier volume, The Worlds of Clifford Simak was originally released as a Simon & Schuster hardcover in 1960; a rather generous-sized, 378-page affair containing a dozen of the future Grand Master’s stories.


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Way Station: A solitary Midwesterner holds the key to the stars

Way Station by Clifford D. Simak

Way Station is Clifford D. Simak’s 1964 Hugo Award-winning novel. By many readers it is considered his best, and it features some his favorite themes: a rugged Midwesterner who shuns society, human society flirting with nuclear disaster, a more enlightened galactic society that is wary of letting unruly humans join in, an appeal to common sense and condemnation of man’s penchant for violence.

Having recently read Simak’s 1952 fixer-up novel City,


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All Flesh Is Grass: Flower power

All Flesh Is Grass by Clifford D. Simak

In the 1966 3-D movie The Bubble, later rereleased as Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth, an impenetrable and transparent dome of unknown origin encases a small American town, trapping its residents inside. Forty-three years later, in Stephen King’s doorstop best seller of 2009, Under the Dome, another American town, Chester’s Mill, is similarly and mysteriously ensnared. Beating both these projects to the punch, however, and a possible inspiration for both of them,


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Why Call Them Back From Heaven?: Cold storage

Why Call Them Back From Heaven? by Clifford D. Simak

Although the concept of cryogenically preserving the bodies of the living had been a trope of Golden Age science fiction from the 1930s and onward, it wasn’t until New Jersey-born Robert Ettinger released his hardheaded book on the subject, 1962’s The Prospect of Immortality, that the idea began to be taken seriously. Ettinger would go on to found the Cryonics Institute in Michigan around 15 years later; over 1,300 folks have subscribed to this facility as of 2015,


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So Bright The Vision: Brownies and milk

So Bright The Vision by Clifford D. Simak

I have been on something of a kick this past year as regards Clifford D. Simak and his shorter fiction of the 1950s. All the Traps of Earth (1962), The Worlds of Clifford Simak (1961) and Other Worlds of Clifford Simak (1962) had all proved to be truly wonderful – or perhaps I should say “wonder-filled” – collections,


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SHORTS: Dickinson, Sanderson, Hill, Kelly, Valentine, Simak

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we’ve recently read. 

“Please Undo this Hurt” by Seth Dickinson (2015, free at Tor.com, Kindle version)

This is a really beautiful story about compassion, pain, and what it means to burn out. “Please Undo This Hurt” seems very realistic and not so much fantasy for a little while. I spent some time at the beginning waiting for the other shoe to drop.


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SHORTS: Dicken, Martin, Sturgeon, Simak, Garcia-Rosas, Vonnegut

Here are a few short stories we’ve recently read and listened to that we wanted you to know about. This week’s selection includes some excellent classic tales.

“The Uncarved Heart” by Evan Dicken (Nov. 2016, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 99c Kindle magazine issue, 0.99£ UK magazine issue)

It’s hard to tell what someone is really made of, at least until you crack them open. Some have hearts fragile as spun glass, quick to break and impossible to put back together; others have iron in their chests heavy enough to weight the whole of their being.


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SHORTS: The Retro Hugo-nominated novelettes and short stories of 1944

SHORTS: Our column exploring free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. In today’s column we review the 2020 Retro Hugo nominees in the novelette and short story categories, following up on yesterday’s column, in which we reviewed the novellas.

RETRO HUGO NOVELETTES:

Arena by Fredric Brown (1944, published in Astounding Science Fiction, free online at Internet Archive). 2020 Retro Hugo award nominee (novelette).

Two massive fleets hang outside the orbit of Pluto, about to engage in a furious battle to the death: Humans and the aliens they call the Outsiders.


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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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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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Next SFF Author: Dan Simmons
Previous SFF Author: Robert Silverberg

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