Frederik Pohl

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This article is about the writer and editor. For the writer on exploration, see Frederick J. Pohl.
Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl Eaton 2008-05-17.png
Born Frederik George Pohl, Jr.
(1919-11-26)November 26, 1919
New York City, United States
Died September 2, 2013(2013-09-02) (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
Nationality American
Period 1939–2013
Genre Science fiction
Notable awards

Campbell Memorial Award
1978, 1985
Hugo Award (novel)
1978
National Book Award
1980

Nebula Award (novel)
1976, 1977
Website
frederikpohl.com

Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (/ˈpl/; 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]

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.[2] 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.[2] 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 forty years. For his 1979 novel Jem, Pohl won a U.S. National Book Award in the one-year category Science Fiction.[3] It was a finalist for three other years' best novel awards.[2] He won four Hugo and three Nebula Awards.[2]

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 won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2010, for his blog, "The Way the Future Blogs".[2][6][7]

Early life and family[edit]

Pohl was the son of Frederik George Pohl (a salesman of Germanic descent) and Anna Jane Mason.[8] 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.[9]

He attended Brooklyn Technical High School, and dropped out at 17.[10] In 2009, he was awarded an honorary diploma from Brooklyn Tech.[11]

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.[12][13] 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, 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.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

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, PhD.

He fathered four children – Ann (m. Walter Weary), Frederik III (deceased), Frederik IV and Kathy.[17] Grandchildren include Canadian writer Emily Pohl-Weary and chef Tobias Pohl-Weary.[18]

From 1984 on, he lived in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He was previously a resident of Middletown, New Jersey.[19]

Career[edit]

Black-and-white photograph of three men standing together
Frederik Pohl (center) with Donald A. Wollheim and John Michel in 1938

Early career[edit]

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.[1][20][21] His first story, the collaboration with C.M. Kornbluth "Before the Universe", appeared in 1940 under the pseudonym S.D. Gottesman.[4]

Work as editor and agent[edit]

From 1939 to 1943, Pohl was the editor of two pulp magazines, Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories.[22] Stories by Pohl often appeared in these science fiction magazine, 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.)[20] 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.

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": For a short time, he was the only agent Isaac Asimov ever had, though his agency did not succeed financially, and he closed it down in the early 1950s.

Pohl co-founded the Hydra Club, a loose collection of science fiction professionals and fans which met during the late 1940s and 1950s.[23]

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".[24] Under his leadership, if won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine for 1966, 1967 and 1968.[25] 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.[26]

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.[4] He also edited a number of science fiction anthologies.

Later career[edit]

After World War II, Pohl worked as an advertising copywriter and then as a copywriter and book editor for Popular Science.[10] 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 reemerged 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".)[27]

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)).

Pohl's Law is either "No one is ever ready for anything"[28][29] or "Nothing is so good that somebody, somewhere will not hate it".[30]

He was a frequent guest on Long John Nebel's radio show from the 1950s to the early 1970s, and an international lecturer.[31]

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.[32] 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[33] for the Literature of Science Fiction Lecture Series,[34] and served the Intensive Institute on Science Fiction and Science Fiction Writing Workshop.[35]

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".[36][37]

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.[38]

Pohl's last novel, All the Lives He Led, was released on April 12, 2011.[39]

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.[40]

Collaborative work[edit]

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.[41]

In the mid-1950s he began a long-running collaboration with Jack Williamson, eventually resulting in ten 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 were good enough to win their contest, it was published under the joint pseudonym Edson McCann.[42] He also collaborated with Thomas T. Thomas on a sequel to his award-winning novel Man Plus.

He finished a novel begun by Arthur C. Clarke, The Last Theorem, which was published on August 5, 2008.

Death[edit]

Pohl went to the hospital in respiratory distress on the morning of September 2, 2013, and died that afternoon[43][44][45][46] at the age of 93.[47]

Works[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Among the living Hal Clement and Pohl were preceded in the Hall of Fame by A. E. van Vogt and Jack Williamson, Arthur C. Clarke and Andre Norton.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Frederik Pohl at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved April 4, 2013. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Pohl, Frederick". The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index to Literary Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  3. ^ "1980 National Book Awards Winners and Finalists, The National Book Foundation". Nationalbook.org. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c "Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame". Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. Retrieved March 26, 2013. This was the official website of the hall of fame to 2004.
  6. ^ thewaythefutureblogs.com
  7. ^ 2010 Hugo Awards ballot, voting through July 31, 2010
  8. ^ Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature - R. Reginald. Google Books. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Let There Be Fandom, Part 3: A Brooklyn Boyhood". Thewaythefutureblogs.com. October 2, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "The Way the Future Blogs, an online memoir by science fiction writer Frederik Pohl - Blog Archive - My Life as Book Editor for Popular Science". Thewaythefutureblogs.com. July 28, 2011. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  11. ^ Dominus, Susan (August 24, 2009). "Big City - At 89, Frederik Pohl, Sci-Fi Author, Gets Brooklyn Tech Diploma". New York Times. Retrieved August 24, 2009. 
  12. ^ "The Way the Future Blogs, an online memoir by science fiction writer Frederik Pohl " Blog Archive " The Quadrumvirate". Thewaythefutureblogs.com. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Isaac". The Way the Future Blogs. January 25, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Poetry Corner". Thewaythefutureblogs.com. June 11, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  15. ^ The Way the Future Was, Frederick Pohl (Ballantine Books, 1978), pp. 93, 113.
  16. ^ "Hal Clement: Major Harry Stubbs". The Way the Future Blogs. March 1, 2011. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  17. ^ Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009. Document Number: H1000078817
  18. ^ Eat at Red Canoe Bistro, The Way the Future Blogs, May 5, 2010: "The proprietor and head chef is the talented Tobias Pohl Weary, who has not only been winning awards for his cuisine but is also my grandson, of whom I am really proud."
  19. ^ [ Displaying Abstract ]. "A Correction - Article - NYTimes.com". Select.nytimes.com. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "Fred's Pen Names". Thewaythefutureblogs.com. May 14, 2010. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna". The Poetry Corner. Thewaythefutureblogs.com. January 30, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Frederik Pohl: Chasing Science". Locus Online. October 2000. 
  23. ^ David A. Kyle. "The Legendary Hydra Club". Mimosa 25. Rich and Nikki Lynch. Retrieved August 7, 2014. 
  24. ^ Pohl, Frederik. The Way the Future Was (New York: Ballantine Books, 1978), pp. 221-2
  25. ^ "The Hugo Awards by Category". worldcon. 
  26. ^ Ashley, Mike, Transformations: The Story of the Science Fiction Magazines from 1950 to 1970, Liverpool University Press (2005), ISBN 0-85323-779-4, p. 207.
  27. ^ "Congratulations to Britannica Contributor and 2010 Hugo Award Winner Frederik Pohl | Britannica Blog". Britannica.com. September 8, 2010. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  28. ^ Pohl, Frederik. Black Star Rising (New York: Ballantine/Del Rey, 1985), p. 177.
  29. ^ Personal communication, Richard Erlich on behalf of Frederik Pohl
  30. ^ "Pohls Law Quotes". Searchquotes.com. August 9, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  31. ^ Pohl, Frederik. The Way the Future Was (New York: Ballantine Books, 1978), pp. 238-39, 269-70, 280.
  32. ^ "Sturgeon Award". 
  33. ^ "Literature of Science Fiction lecture". Literature of Science Fiction series. 1973. 
  34. ^ "Literature of Science Fiction lecture". 
  35. ^ "CSSF Writing Workshop". 
  36. ^ "Press Release" (Press release). University of California, Riverside: The 2009 Eaton Science Fiction Conference. September 19, 2008. 
  37. ^ "The Eaton Awards". Eaton Science Fiction Conference. University of California, Riverside (ucr.edu). Retrieved 2013-04-06.
  38. ^ "Table of contents for 'Gateways'", "More About 'Gateways'". Thewaythefutureblogs.com. June 14, 2010. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  39. ^ "All the Lives He Led". Macmillan Publishers. July 9, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Frederik Pohl, Nov. 26, 1919‐Sept. 2, 2013". Thewaythefutureblogs.com. September 4, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  41. ^ A belated sequel, The Merchants' War (1984) was written by Pohl alone, after Kornbluth's death. Pohl's The Merchants of Venus was an unconnected 1972 novella that includes biting satire on runaway free market capitalism and first introduced the Heechee.
  42. ^ Frederick Pohl, The Way the Future Was, Ballantine Books (1978),
  43. ^ Smith, Dick; Zeldes, Leah (September 2, 2013). ""Farewell...." The Way the Future Blogs". Thewaythefutureblogs.com. Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  44. ^ Jonas, Gerald (September 3, 2013). "Frederik Pohl, Worldly-Wise Master of Science Fiction, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  45. ^ Staff (September 3, 2013). "In Memoriam Frederick Pohl". SFWA. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  46. ^ Pohl-Weary, Emily (September 2, 2013). "Twitter / emilypohlweary: Rest in peace to my beloved grandfather, Frederik Pohl". Twitter. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  47. ^ Barnett, David (September 3, 2013). "Frederik Pohl, grandmaster of science fiction, dies aged 93". The Guardian. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

Biographies[edit]

  • Frederik Pohl by Michael R. Page (2015). University of Illinois Press

Works about Pohl[edit]

External links[edit]