Frederik George Pohl Jr. (/poʊl/; November 26, 1919 – September 2, 2013) was an American science-fiction writer, editor, and fan, with a career spanning more than 75 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.
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, one of two repeat winners during the first 40 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. He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards.
The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl its 12th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award in 1993 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.[a]
Pohl in 2008 at the J. Lloyd Eaton Science Fiction Conference
|Born||Frederik George Pohl, Jr.|
November 26, 1919
New York City, United States
|Died||September 2, 2013 (aged 93)|
Palatine, Illinois, United States
|Pen name||Edson McCann, Jordan Park, Elton V. Andrews, Paul Fleur, Lee Gregor, Warren F. Howard, Scott Mariner, Ernst Mason, James McCreigh, Dirk Wilson, Donald Stacy|
|Occupation||Novelist, short story author, essayist, publisher, editor, literary agent|
|Notable awards||Campbell Memorial Award |
Nebula Award (novel)
Pohl was the son of Frederik (originally Friedrich) George Pohl (a salesman of Germanic descent) and Anna Jane Mason. Pohl Sr. held various jobs, and the Pohls lived in such wide-flung locations as Texas, California, New Mexico, and the Panama Canal Zone. The family settled in Brooklyn when Pohl was around seven.
While a teenager, he co-founded the New York–based Futurians fan group, and began lifelong friendships with Donald Wollheim, Isaac Asimov, and others who would become important writers and editors. Pohl later said that other "friends came and went and were gone, [but] many of the ones I met through fandom were friends all their lives – Isaac, Damon Knight, Cyril Kornbluth, Dirk Wylie, [and] Dick Wilson. In fact, there are one or two – Jack Robins, Dave Kyle – whom I still count as friends, seventy-odd years later...." He published a science-fiction fanzine called Mind of Man.
During 1936, Pohl joined the Young Communist League because of its positions for unions and against racial prejudice, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini. He became president of the local Flatbush III Branch of the YCL in Brooklyn. Pohl has said that after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, the party line changed and he could no longer support it, at which point he left.
Pohl served in the United States Army from April 1943 until November 1945, rising to sergeant as an air corps weatherman. After training in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Colorado, he was mainly stationed in Italy with the 456th Bombardment Group.
Pohl was married five times. His first wife, Leslie Perri, was another Futurian; they were married in August 1940, and divorced in 1944. He then married Dorothy LesTina in Paris in August 1945 while both were serving in the military in Europe; the marriage ended in 1947. During 1948, he married Judith Merril; they had a daughter, Ann. Pohl and Merril divorced in 1952. In 1953, he married Carol M. Ulf Stanton, with whom he had three children and collaborated on several books; they separated in 1977 and were divorced in 1983. From 1984 until his death, Pohl was married to science-fiction expert and academic Elizabeth Anne Hull.
Pohl began writing in the late 1930s, using pseudonyms for most of his early works. His first publication was the poem "Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna" under the name of Elton Andrews, in the October 1937 issue of Amazing Stories, edited by T. O'Conor Sloane. (Pohl asked readers 30 years later, "we would take it as a personal favor if no one ever looked it up".) His first story, the collaboration with C.M. Kornbluth "Before the Universe", appeared in 1940 under the pseudonym S.D. Gottesman.
Pohl started a career as a literary agent in 1937, but it was a sideline for him until after World War II, when he began doing it full-time. He ended up "representing more than half the successful writers in science fiction", but his agency did not succeed financially, and he closed it down in the early 1950s.
Pohl stopped being Asimov's agent—the only one the latter ever had—when he became editor from 1939 to 1943 of two pulp magazines, Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories. Stories by Pohl often appeared in these science-fiction magazines, but never under his own name. Work written in collaboration with Cyril M. Kornbluth was credited to S. D. Gottesman or Scott Mariner; other collaborative work (with any combination of Kornbluth, Dirk Wylie, or Robert A. W. Lownes) was credited to Paul Dennis Lavond. For Pohl's solo work, stories were credited to James MacCreigh (or for one story only, Warren F. Howard.) Works by "Gottesman", "Lavond", and "MacCreigh" continued to appear in various science-fiction pulp magazines throughout the 1940s.
In his autobiography, Pohl said that he stopped editing the two magazines at roughly the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
From the early 1960s until 1969, Pohl served as editor of Galaxy Science Fiction and Worlds of if magazines, taking over after the ailing H. L. Gold could no longer continue working "around the end of 1960". Under his leadership, if won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine for 1966, 1967 and 1968. Pohl hired Judy-Lynn del Rey as his assistant editor at Galaxy and if. He also served as editor of Worlds of Tomorrow from its first issue in 1963 until it was merged into if in 1967.
In the mid-1970s, Pohl acquired and edited novels for Bantam Books, published as "Frederik Pohl Selections"; these included Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren and Joanna Russ's The Female Man. He also edited a number of science-fiction anthologies.
After World War II, Pohl worked as an advertising copywriter and then as a copywriter and book editor for Popular Science. Following the war, Pohl began publishing material under his own name, much in collaboration with his fellow Futurian, Cyril Kornbluth.
Though the pen names of "Gottesman", "Lavond", and "MacCreigh" were retired by the early 1950s, Pohl still occasionally used pseudonyms, even after he began to publish work under his real name. These occasional pseudonyms, all of which date from the early 1950s to the early 1960s, included Charles Satterfield, Paul Flehr, Ernst Mason, Jordan Park (two collaborative novels with Kornbluth), and Edson McCann (one collaborative novel with Lester del Rey).
In the 1970s, Pohl re-emerged as a novel writer in his own right, with books such as Man Plus and the Heechee series. He won back-to-back Nebula Awards with Man Plus in 1976 and Gateway, the first Heechee novel, in 1977. In 1978, Gateway swept the other two major novel honors, also winning the Hugo Award for Best Novel and John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science-fiction novel. Two of his stories have also earned him Hugo Awards: "The Meeting" (with Kornbluth) tied in 1973 and "Fermi and Frost" won in 1986. Another award-winning novel is Jem (1980), winner of the National Book Award.
His works include not only science fiction, but also articles for Playboy and Family Circle magazines and nonfiction books. For a time, he was the official authority for Encyclopædia Britannica on the subject of Emperor Tiberius. (He wrote a book on the subject of Tiberius, as "Ernst Mason".)
Some of his short stories take a satirical look at consumerism and advertising in the 1950s and 1960s: "The Wizards of Pung's Corners", where flashy, over-complex military hardware proved useless against farmers with shotguns, and "The Tunnel under the World", where an entire community of seeming-humans is held captive by advertising researchers. ("The Wizards of Pung's Corners" was freely translated into Chinese and then freely translated back into English as "The Wizard-Masters of Peng-Shi Angle" in the first edition of Pohlstars (1984)).
Starting in 1995, when the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award became a juried award, Pohl served first with James Gunn and Judith Merril, and since then with several others until retiring in 2013. Pohl was associated with Gunn since the 1940s, becoming involved in 1975 with what later became Gunn's Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. There, he presented many talks, recorded a discussion about "The Ideas in Science Fiction" in 1973 for the Literature of Science Fiction Lecture Series, and served the Intensive Institute on Science Fiction and Science Fiction Writing Workshop.
Pohl received the second annual J. W. Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award in Science Fiction from the University of California, Riverside Libraries at the 2009 Eaton Science Fiction Conference, "Extraordinary Voyages: Jules Verne and Beyond".
Pohl's work has been an influence on a wide variety of other science fiction writers, some of whom appear in the 2010 anthology, Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull.
Pohl's last novel, All the Lives He Led, was released on April 12, 2011.
By the time of his death, he was working to finish a second volume of his autobiography The Way the Future Was (1979), along with an expanded version of the latter.
In addition to his solo writings, Pohl was also well known for his collaborations, beginning with his first published story. Before and following the war, Pohl did a series of collaborations with his friend Cyril Kornbluth, including a large number of short stories and several novels, among them The Space Merchants, a dystopian satire of a world ruled by the advertising agencies.
In the mid-1950s, he began a long-running collaboration with Jack Williamson, eventually resulting in 10 collaborative novels over five decades.
Other collaborations included a novel with Lester Del Rey, Preferred Risk (1955). This novel was solicited for a contest by Galaxy–Simon & Schuster when the judges did not think any of the contest submissions was good enough to win their contest. It was published under the joint pseudonym Edson McCann. He also collaborated with Thomas T. Thomas on a sequel to his award-winning novel Man Plus. He wrote two short stories with Isaac Asimov in the 1940s, both published in 1950.
Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 2, 1923 – March 21, 1958) was an American science fiction author and a member of the Futurians. He used a variety of pen-names, including Cecil Corwin, S. D. Gottesman, Edward J. Bellin, Kenneth Falconer, Walter C. Davies, Simon Eisner, Jordan Park, Arthur Cooke, Paul Dennis Lavond, and Scott Mariner. The "M" in Kornbluth's name may have been in tribute to his wife, Mary Byers; Kornbluth's colleague and collaborator Frederik Pohl confirmed Kornbluth's lack of any actual middle name in at least one interview.Day Million
Day Million is a collection of science fiction short stories by American writer Frederik Pohl, published in June 1970.Drunkard's Walk (novel)
Drunkard's Walk is a science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl. It was originally published in paperback by Ballantine Books in 1960 and early in 1961 by Gnome Press in a hardback edition of 3,000 copies. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Galaxy Science Fiction.Gateway (novel)
Gateway is a 1977 science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl. It is the opening novel in the Heechee saga, with four sequels that followed (five books overall). Gateway won the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. The novel was adapted into a computer game in 1992.Heechee Rendezvous
Heechee Rendezvous is a science fiction novel by the American writer Frederik Pohl, published in 1984 by the Del Rey imprint of Ballantine Books. It is a sequel to Gateway (1977) and Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1981) and is set about two decades after Gateway. It has been cataloged as the third book in a 6-book series called Heechee or The Heechee Saga but Kirkus reviewed it as completing a trilogy and a German-language edition of the three books was published as the Gateway trilogy (Die Gateway-Trilogie, Munich: Heyne Verlag, 2004) after all six were out.Readers of Locus ranked Heechee Rendezvous third in the 1985 poll to confer the annual Locus Award for Best SF Novel.Homegoing (Pohl novel)
Homegoing is a science fiction novel by American author Frederik Pohl, first published in 1989 by Easton Press. The novel was one of the nominees for the Locus SF Award, one of the awards of the Hugo Awards.Man Plus
Man Plus is a 1976 science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1976, was nominated for the Hugo and Campbell Awards, and placed third in the annual Locus Poll in 1977. Pohl teamed up with Thomas T. Thomas to write a sequel, Mars Plus, published in 1994.Narabedla Ltd.
Narabedla Ltd. is a science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl, published by Ballatine Books in 1988. "Narabedla" is the name of the star Aldebaran written backwards.Saga of Cuckoo
The Saga of Cuckoo is a series of science fiction novels by American writers Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson. It consists of two novels, Farthest Star and Wall Around a Star.
The books feature an interstellar teleporter that leaves the original being behind and sends only a duplicate. When a person is duplicated, the original can just pass out of the machine without a second thought. The copies can be also be "edited" at destination.Search the Sky
Search the Sky is a satirical science fiction novel by American writers Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, first published in 1954 by Ballantine Books.Slave Ship (Pohl novel)
Slave Ship is a 1956 short science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl, originally serialized in Galaxy. The scene is a world in the throes of a low-intensity global war, which appears to be an amplified representation of the Vietnam War, in which the U.S. was just beginning to be involved. The plot involves telepathy, speaking to animals, and, in the last few pages, an invasion by extraterrestrials.
The nominal adversaries in the novel are known as "cow-dyes", a corruption of Caodai, a religion of Vietnamese origin. On the American side, telepaths, who are used in espionage and other covert activities, are falling victim to "the glotch", a fatal affliction which is believed to be a Caodai bio-weapon, transmitted telepathically.Starchild Trilogy
The Starchild Trilogy is a series of three books written by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson. In the future depicted in this series, mankind is ruled by a brutal totalitarian government known as the Plan of Man, enforced by a computerized surveillance state.
The books in the series were:
The Reefs of Space (1964)
Rogue Star (1969)An omnibus edition titled The Starchild Trilogy was first published in 1980.Stopping at Slowyear
Stopping at Slowyear is a 1991 science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl.The Cool War
The Cool War is a science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl, published in 1981 by Del Rey Books.The Far Shore of Time
The Far Shore of Time is a science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl. It concludes The Eschaton Sequence and the adventures of Dan Dannerman, an American government agent of the near future who becomes involved with the discovery of advanced and warring aliens.The Meeting (short story)
"The Meeting" is a 1972 science fiction short story by Frederik Pohl, based on an unfinished draft by Cyril Kornbluth. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction; an audio version was read by Bradley Denton.The World at the End of Time
World at the End of Time is a 1990 hard science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl. It tells the parallel stories of a human and a plasma-based intelligence who manage to survive to the time near the heat death of the universe. The book is thus a combined work in speculative cosmology and space colonization.Undersea Trilogy
The Undersea Trilogy is a series of three science fiction novels by American writers Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson. The novels were first published by Gnome Press beginning in 1954. The novels were collected in a single omnibus volume published by Baen Books in 1992. The story takes place in and around the underwater dome city called Marinia. The hero of the stories is cadet Jim Eden of the Sub-Sea Academy.Wall Around a Star
Wall Around a Star is a science fiction novel by American writers Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson, the second book of the Saga of Cuckoo series, following Farthest Star. The book was published by Del Rey Books on January 12, 1983, with cover art by David Mattingly.In this novel linguist Jen Babylon is called on to translate alien records which may explain the nature of "Cuckoo", a sphere built around a star, and thus save the galaxy.