William Tenn

William Tenn was the pseudonym of Philip Klass (May 9, 1920 – February 7, 2010), a British-born American science fiction author, notable for many stories with satirical elements.[1]

William Tenn
Tenn in 2002
Tenn in 2002
BornPhilip Klass
May 9, 1920
London, England
DiedFebruary 7, 2010 (aged 89)
Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, United States
Resting placeQueen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery
GenreScience fiction
Notable awardsAuthor Emeritus
SpouseFruma Klass
Fantastic adventures 195110
Tenn's short novel "Medusa Was a Lady" was the cover story in the August 1951 issue of Fantastic Adventures, but would not appear in book form (as A Lamp for Medusa) until 1968


Born to a Jewish family[2] in London, Phillip Klass moved to New York City with his parents before his second birthday and grew up in Brooklyn, the oldest of three children. After serving in the United States Army during World War II as a combat engineer in Europe, he held a job as a technical editor with an Air Force radar and radio laboratory and was employed by Bell Labs.

Phillip and Fruma Klass married in 1957, and they moved in 1966 to State College, Pennsylvania, where he taught English and comparative literature at Penn State University for 22 years.[3] Students of his who would go on to professional careers as writers included Rambo creator David Morrell,[4] screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, technology writer Steven Levy and crime novelist Ray Ring.

Phil's wife, Fruma Klass (b. 1935), grew up in New York City and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn College to work as a lab technician, a medical editor and a Harper & Row copy editor. At Penn State, she was a writing instructor and a copy editor for the Penn State University Press.

When Phil Klass retired, the couple moved to the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon in 1988, and she took a job as an editor with Black Box Corporation. That same year, her first short story, "Before the Rainbow," was published in the anthology Synergy 3. In 1996, her second story, "After the Rainbow," won a Writers of the Future prize; the story was published in Writers of the Future, Vol. XII. In 2004, she entered a worldwide essay competition, the Power of Purpose Awards, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Competing against 7,000 entrants from 97 countries, she won $25,000 for her essay, "Streets of Mud, Streets of Gold."[5]

Phil and Fruma Klass were members of the Pittsburgh Area Real Time Science Fiction Enthusiasts Consortium (PARSEC), and were frequent speakers at its local conference, Confluence.

Phil Klass was a Guest of Honor at Noreascon 4, the 2004 World Science Fiction Convention. He was the Author Guest of Honor at Loscon 33 at the LAX Marriott in Los Angeles in 2006.[6]

He has published most of his fiction as William Tenn and much of his nonfiction as Phil (or Philip) Klass.[7][8] He is sometimes confused with UFO debunker Philip J. Klass, who was born six months earlier and who died August 9, 2005.

Klass was related to other writers, including his nieces, Perri Klass and Judy Klass, his nephew David Klass, and his brother Morton Klass.

He died on February 7, 2010, of congestive heart failure, and was survived by his wife Fruma, daughter Adina, and sister Frances Goldman-Levy.[9]


Klass published academic articles, essays, two novels and more than 60 short stories. He began writing while working at Bell Labs, and his radar lab experience prompted his first story, "Alexander the Bait", about a radar beam aimed at the moon. It was published in Astounding Science Fiction (May 1946), and within months a Signal Corps lab bounced a radar beam off the moon, making his story obsolete. He commented, "It was a bad story, just good enough to be published. Others in the same magazine were much better, so I really worked hard on my second one. I did as well as I knew how."

Some of the nonfiction articles in the trade periodical TWX Magazine have been attributed to Klass during his employment at Bell Labs, although most were published without by-lines.[10]

His second story, the widely reprinted "Child's Play" (1947), told of a lawyer who creates people with his Bild-A-Man kit, a Christmas gift intended for a child of the future. After publication in Astounding Science Fiction (May 1946), Tenn was soon hailed as the science fiction field's reigning humorist, and during the early 1950s, readers of Galaxy Science Fiction looked forward to issues featuring his satirical science fiction.

Many stories followed, including "Venus and the Seven Sexes" (1951), "Down Among the Dead Men" (1954), "The Liberation of Earth", "Time in Advance" (1956) and "On Venus, Have We Got a Rabbi" (1974). One of his non-fiction articles, "Mr. Eavesdropper," was later collected in Best Magazine Articles, 1968. His essay and interview collection, Dancing Naked, was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Related Book in 2004. He was given the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1999.[9]

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction ranked Tenn as "one of the genre's very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction."[11] Theodore Sturgeon summed up Tenn's humorous viewpoint on life:

It would be too wide a generalization to say that every SF satire, every SF comedy and every attempt at witty and biting criticism found in the field is a poor and usually cheap imitation of what this man has been doing since the 1940s. His incredibly involved and complex mind can at times produce constructive comment so pointed and astute that the fortunate recipient is permanently improved by it. Admittedly, the price may be to create two whole categories for our species: humanity and William Tenn. For each of which you must create your ethos and your laws. I've done that. And to me it's worth it.

Tenn wrote two novels, both published in 1968. Of Men and Monsters is an expansion of his story "The Men in the Walls", originally in Galaxy Science Fiction (October 1963).[12] A Lamp for Medusa was published as a double novel with Dave Van Arnam's The Players of Hell. This novella was an expansion of his story "Medusa Was a Lady!" from the October, 1951 issue of Fantastic Adventures.


In 1978, the University Readers at Penn State University presented a dramatization, directed by Joseph Wigley, of four of Tenn's short stories under the title Four From Tenn. The selected stories were "The Discovery of Morniel Mathaway", "Bernie the Faust", "The Tenants", and "My Mother Was a Witch".[13]

Pittsburgh's Malacandra Productions staged a nine-character play adapted by John Regis from the classic Tenn science fiction short story, "Winthrop Was Stubborn". Directed by David Brody for the Three Rivers Arts Festival, this production ran from June 2 through June 17, 2006.[14]




  1. ^ Jonas, Gerald (February 14, 2010). "William Tenn, Science Fiction Author, Is Dead at 89". New York Times. p. A24. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  2. ^ Gershom, Yonassan (March 13, 2013). Jewish Themes in Star Trek.
  3. ^ "Klass notes emphasis on future: Science fiction invasion". Daily Collegian. Penn State University. April 26, 1972. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  4. ^ White, Ken (April 2, 2004). "First Love". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved February 8, 2010. It was only while a grad student at Penn State in 1968 that Morrell found his direction. He was in a bookstore one day with his mentor, novelist Philip Klass (better known under his pseudonym, William Tenn), who pointed out the thriller section.
  5. ^ Fuoco, Linda Wilson (October 14, 2004). "Essay winner uses family's legacy to inspire others". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  6. ^ "Loscon History". The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  7. ^ Pace, Eric (September 20, 1973). "'Weirdo' Writers Of Sci-Fi Okay Now". Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  8. ^ Abbey, Alan D. (February 13, 2004). "Aliens no longer". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Mahon, Ed (February 8, 2010). "Ex-PSU professor, sci-fiwriter dies at 89". Centre Daily Times. Archived from the original on February 11, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  10. ^ Clareson, Thomas D. (editor) (1976). Voices for the Future: Essays on Major Science Fiction Writers, Vol. 1. The Popular Press. p. 212. ISBN 0-87972-119-7.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Clute and Nicholls 1995, pp. 1209-1210.
  12. ^ Earley, George W. (February 2, 1969). "Spaceman's Bookshelf". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  13. ^ Clifford, Anne (January 30, 1978). "It's science fiction drama". Daily Collegian. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  14. ^ Stephenson, Philip A. (June 14, 2006). "Stage Review: 'Winthrop' tussles with tough questions". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 8, 2010.


External links

Alien invasion

The alien invasion or space invasion is a common feature in science fiction stories and film, in which extraterrestrials invade the Earth either to exterminate and supplant human life, enslave it under an intense state, harvest people for food, steal the planet's resources, or destroy the planet altogether.

The invasion scenario has been used as an allegory for a protest against military hegemony and the societal ills of the time. H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds extended the invasion literature that was already common when science fiction was first emerging as a genre.

Prospects of invasion tended to vary with the state of current affairs, and current perceptions of threat. Alien invasion was a common metaphor in United States science fiction during the Cold War, illustrating the fears of foreign (e.g. Soviet Union) occupation and nuclear devastation of the American people. Examples of these stories include the short story The Liberation of Earth (1950) by William Tenn and the film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

In the invasion trope, fictional aliens contacting Earth tend to either observe (sometimes using experiments) or invade, rather than help the population of Earth acquire the capacity to participate in interplanetary affairs. There are some notable exceptions, such as the alien-initiated first-contact scenarios in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and Arrival (2016). A trope of the peaceful first-contact is humanity attaining a key technological threshold (e.g. nuclear weapons and space travel in The Day the Earth Stood Still or faster-than-light travel in First Contact), justifying their initiation into a broader community of intelligent species.

Technically, a human invasion of an alien species is also an alien invasion, as from the viewpoint of the aliens, humans are the aliens. Such stories are much rarer than stories about aliens attacking humans. Examples include the short story Sentry (1954) (in which the "aliens" described are, at the end, explained to be humans), the video game Phantasy Star II (1989), The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, the Imperium of Man in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Invaders from Earth by Robert Silverberg, the movies Battle for Terra (2007), Planet 51 (2009), Avatar (2009) and Mars Needs Moms (2011).

As well as being a subgenre of science fiction, these kinds of books can be considered a subgenre of invasion literature, which also includes fictional depictions of humans invaded by other humans (for example, a fictional invasion of England by a hostile France strongly influenced Wells' depiction of a Martian invasion).

Alpha 6 (Robert Silverberg anthology)

Alpha 6 is a science fiction anthology edited by American writer Robert Silverberg, first published in 1976.

Author Emeritus

Author Emeritus was an honorary title annually bestowed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America upon a living writer. It was created in 1995 "as a way to recognize and appreciate senior writers in the genres of science fiction and fantasy who have made significant contributions to our field but who are no longer active or whose excellent work may no longer be as widely known as it once was." The Author Emeritus is invited to speak at the annual Nebula Awards banquet.The Author Emeritus was inaugurated in 1995 and conferred 14 times in 16 years to 2010 (at the 1994 to 2009 Nebula Awards banquets). Three years later, no more had been named and SFWA simply stated, "This year's Nebula Awards Weekend will not feature an Author Emeritus." By October 2013, early in the 20th year of the honor, SFWA had made unavailable general information about the Author Emeritus and a compiled list of honorees.

1995 Emil Petaja

1996 Wilson Tucker

1997 Judith Merril

1998 Nelson S. Bond

1999 William Tenn

2000 Daniel Keyes

2001 Robert Sheckley

2002 —

2003 Katherine MacLean

2004 Charles L. Harness—declined the banquet invitation due to being unable to travel and was honored by SFWA as an "Author of Distinction"

2005 —

2006 William F. Nolan

2007 D. G. Compton

2008 Ardath Mayhar

2009 M. J. Engh

2010 Neal Barrett, Jr.

Children of Wonder

Children of Wonder is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories edited by William Tenn, published in hardcover by Simon & Schuster in 1953. It was reprinted in paperback in 1954 by Permabooks, under the title Outsiders: Children of Wonder. The only anthology edited by Tenn, its stories feature children with superhuman or supernatural talents.

Future Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories

Future Science Fiction and Science Fiction Stories were two American science fiction magazines that were published under various names between 1939 and 1943 and again from 1950 to 1960. Both publications were edited by Charles Hornig for the first few issues; Robert W. Lowndes took over in late 1941 and remained editor until the end. The initial launch of the magazines came as part of a boom in science fiction pulp magazine publishing at the end of the 1930s. In 1941 the two magazines were combined into one, titled Future Fiction combined with Science Fiction, but in 1943 wartime paper shortages ended the magazine's run, as Louis Silberkleit, the publisher, decided to focus his resources on his mystery and western magazine titles. In 1950, with the market improving again, Silberkleit relaunched Future Fiction, still in the pulp format. In the mid-1950s he also relaunched Science Fiction, this time under the title Science Fiction Stories. Silberkleit kept both magazines on very slim budgets throughout the 1950s. In 1960 both titles ceased publication when their distributor suddenly dropped all of Silberkleit's titles.

The fiction was generally unremarkable, with few memorable stories being published, particularly in the earlier versions of the magazines. Lowndes spent much effort to set a friendly and engaging tone in both magazines, with letter columns and reader departments that interested fans. He was more successful than Hornig in obtaining good stories, partly because he had good relationships with several well-known and emerging writers. Among the better-known stories he published were "The Liberation of Earth" by William Tenn, and "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth" by Arthur C. Clarke.

Here Comes Civilization

Here Comes Civilization is a collection of 27 science fiction stories written by William Tenn, the second of two volumes presenting Tenn's complete body of science fiction writings. It features an introduction by Robert Silverberg and an afterword by George Zebrowski. Tenn provides afterwords to each story, describing how they came to be written.

Immodest Proposals

Immodest Proposals is a collection of 33 science fiction stories written by William Tenn, the first of two volumes presenting Tenn's complete body of science fiction writings. It features an introduction by Connie Willis. Tenn provides afterwords to each story, describing how they came to be written.


Klass is a Germanic surname. Notable people

with the surname include:

Alisha Klass, American pornographic actress

Christa Klaß (Christa Klass, (born 1951), German politician

Craig Klass (born 1965), former water polo player

Dan Klass, co-author of Podcast Solutions

David Klass, American screenplay writer and children's author

Edward Klass (born 1965), American water polo player

Eugene Klass (born 1919), known as American actor Gene Barry

John Klass (born 1975), triple-platinum award-winning singer/producer/songwriter/radio presenter

Günter Klass (1936-1967), German race driver

Myleene Klass (born 1978), British musician, former member of the UK pop group Hear'Say

Perri Klass, pediatrician and writer

Philip Klass (born 1920), American science fiction writer under the name William Tenn

Philip J. Klass (1919–2005), American UFO researcher

Sholom Klass (1916–2000), Rabbi and editor of The Jewish Press

Sam Klass, (born 1986), Canadian musician


NESFA Press is the publishing arm of the New England Science Fiction Association, Inc. The NESFA Press primarily produces three types of books:

Books honoring the guest(s) of honor at their annual convention, Boskone, and at some Worldcons and other conventions.

Books in the NESFA's Choice series, which bring back into print the works of deserving classic SF writers such as James Schmitz, Cordwainer Smith, C. M. Kornbluth, and Zenna Henderson.

Reference books on science fiction and science fiction fandom.

Of All Possible Worlds

Of All Possible Worlds is a collection of science fiction stories by American writer William Tenn. It was published in hardcover by Ballantine Books in 1955, with a cover by Richard Powers. Ballantine issued paperback editions in 1955, 1960, and 1968; a British hardcover appeared in 1956 with a paperback following in 1963. It was Tenn's first collection.

Of Men and Monsters

Of Men and Monsters is a science fiction novel by American writer William Tenn, published in June 1968 as a paperback by Ballantine Books. The book is an expansion of his story "The Men in the Walls", originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction in October 1963. Of Men and Monsters is Tenn’s only full-length novel, as the majority of his other stories are novellas.

Peter A. Sturgeon

Peter Assheton Sturgeon (November 22, 1916 – July 22, 2005) was founder of the American branch of Mensa and the older brother of noted American science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon.

The two brothers were the sons of Edward Molineaux Waldo, a Staten Island paint manufacturer, and Christine Hamilton Dicker, a British writer and political activist. Their parents divorced when they were children and in 1927 their mother married William Dickie Sturgeon, an emigrant Scottish college professor. Christine and her children relocated to Philadelphia where Peter and his brother Ted were educated in public schools.

After high school Peter joined the Communist Party. After working for a time as a party activist in a steel industry organizing campaign in Baltimore, he went to Spain and fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer with the British Battalion of the International Brigades. The writer William Tenn has stated that Sturgeon became involved with POUM while in Spain and fell into disfavor with his superiors. After returning to the United States Sturgeon resigned from the Communist Party and associated with the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. In 1941, he was drafted into the Army, serving as a combat paratrooper in the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team until his discharge in November 1945. After the war he earned a BS degree at New York University. He settled in Brooklyn with his wife Ines, working as a medical writer and writing technical material for the pharmaceutical industry. He founded the first American chapter of Mensa in New York in 1960, holding early meetings at his Brooklyn apartment. In 1965 he left the United States, taking a job with the World Health Organization in Switzerland. In 1968 he relocated to Vienna, Austria where he worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. He died in Vienna in 2005.

Sci Fiction

Sci Fiction was an online magazine which ran from 2000 to 2005. At one time, it was the leading online science fiction magazine. Published by Syfy and edited by Ellen Datlow, the work won multiple awards before it was discontinued.

TWX (magazine)

TWX was a trade magazine published by the Long Lines Department of AT&T Corporation. The magazine first appeared in June 1944 and was published sporadically, ceasing publication in March 1952 after 41 issues.TWX magazine took its name from the Teletypewriter Exchange Service, which was developed by AT&T Corp. in 1931. The TWX service was sold to Western Union in 1969, but it remained an industry standard until 1981, when it was converted to the Telex II system.

Free subscriptions to TWX magazine were offered to companies that were using AT&T's equipment and services. As such, the content tended to focus less on the technical aspects of telegraph/Teletype operations and more on practical usage in an office environment. Each issue featured industry news, product evaluations, and testimonials from office managers extolling the virtues of the teletypewriter. Although most of the articles were published without a byline, some of the magazine's content has been attributed to science-fiction writer William Tenn, who was working as a technical editor for AT&T's Bell Labs at the time.Although TWX magazine boasted a circulation of 8,000, most of that was due to its free circulation to AT&T's clients and partners. Few people actually read the magazine, and those that did accused it of being little more than "twenty pages of fluff and advertisements for products with a niche market at best". Although the TWX system itself remained viable for several decades, TWX magazine shut down in March 1952.

That Hell-Bound Train

"That Hell-Bound Train" is a fantasy short story by American writer Robert Bloch. It was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in September 1958.

The Human Angle

The Human Angle is the second collection of science fiction stories by American writer William Tenn, published simultaneously in hardback and paperback by Ballantine Books in 1956. Ballantine reprinted the collection in 1964 and 1968.

The Liberation of Earth

"The Liberation of Earth" is a science fiction short story by American author William Tenn, written in 1950, first published in 1953, and reprinted several times in various anthologies, including 1955 collection Of all Possible Worlds and 1967 anthology The Starlit Corridor. The story, which Tenn described as having been inspired by the Korean War, portrays Earth as the battleground between two powerful alien races, the Troxxt and the Dendi, who repeatedly "liberate" it from each other.

At the time the story begins, the Troxxt and the Dendi have long since abandoned the (literally) shattered remnants of Earth as being too dangerous for civilized people; humanity is nearly extinct, with the few survivors having descended into starving savagery as they struggle for air.

Time in Advance

Time in Advance (no ISBN) is a collection of four short stories by American science fiction writer William Tenn (a pseudonym of Philip Klass). The stories all originally appeared in a number of different publications between 1952 and 1957.

Time in Advance was first published by Bantam Books as a paperback in 1958 and also published as a hardcover in the United Kingdom by Victor Gollancz in 1963, followed a hardcover edition in 1964 published in the United Kingdom by the Science Fiction Book Club and by a Panther paperback edition in April 1966.

Venus and the Seven Sexes

"Venus and the Seven Sexes" is a science fiction story by American writer William Tenn. It was first published in the anthology The Girl with the Hungry Eyes, and Other Stories (Avon Publishing) in 1949, and then in 1953 in the anthology Science-Fiction Carnival by Fredric Brown and Mack Reynolds (Shasta Publishers).The story was reprinted in 1968 in The Seven Sexes, an anthology of William Tenn's short stories published by Ballantine Books. It also appeared in the 2001 anthology of William Tenn's works titled Immodest Proposals, published by NESFA Press.

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