T. J. Bass

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T. J. Bass
Born Thomas J. Bassler
(1932-07-07)July 7, 1932
Clinton, Iowa, United States
Died December 13, 2011(2011-12-13) (aged 79)
Occupation Physician, science fiction writer

T. J. Bass, real name Thomas J. Bassler, MD[1] (July 7, 1932 – December 13, 2011) was an American science fiction author and physician, having graduated from the University of Iowa in 1959. Bassler is also known for his widely discredited claim that nonsmokers who are able to complete a marathon in under four hours can eat whatever they wish and never suffer a fatal heart attack.[2][3]

John Robbins has noted that Jim Fixx approvingly quoted Bassler in his bestselling book, “The Complete Book of Running”. Fixx died from heart failure at 52 while running.[4]

U.S. Congressman Goodloe Byron died from a heart attack while jogging in October 1978. He was 49 years old. According to nutritionist and longevity research pioneer Nathan Pritikin, Byron had run six Boston Marathons, with a best time of 3:28:40, and had not smoked for 25 years. Byron was intrigued by Bassler's claim of immunity. Consequently, he ignored warnings from his physician who told him that treadmill tests from 1974 to 1978 indicated his coronary arteries were gradually closing. The last treadmill test in January 1978 "indicated severe abnormality and was positive for heart disease." The physician advised Byron to stop running until further tests could be done.[5]

According to Bassler, Byron did not die from heart disease but because "he probably wasn't eating one of the six foods that marathoners eat: yeast, yogurt, peanuts, beer, wheat germ and vitamin C." However Dr. Manuel G. Jimenez, who performed the autopsy, said in response, "For me, it was plainly coronary insufficiency due to atherosclerosis."[6]

Two of Bass' novels, Half Past Human (1971) and The Godwhale (1974), were nominated for the Nebula award. In both his books the Hive was a three trillion population of 'nebishes' - humans who had four toes and all aggressiveness bred out of them.[7]


Science fiction novels (as T. J. Bass)

Short stories

  • Star Itch (1968) If magazine
  • Star Seeder (1969) If magazine
  • Half Past Human (1969) Galaxy science fiction, Vol.29 No.4
  • G.I.T.A.R (or "Song of Kaia") (1970) If magazine, Nov-Dec
  • A Game of Biochess (1970) If magazine
  • Rorqual Maru (1972) Galaxy science fiction, Vol.32 No.4

Non fiction (as Thomas J. Bassler)

  • The Whole Life Diet: An Integrated Program of Nutrition and Exercise for a Lifestyle of Total Health (1979), with Robert E. Burger


  1. ^ The Internet Speculative Fiction Database: Biography
  2. ^ Special Report: Are Marathons Dangerous?, Runner’s World, Amy Burfoot, December 2008; Page 5
  3. ^ Running to Death, Waller B, Csere R, Baker W, Roberts W. Chest, 1981; 79(3):346-349
  4. ^ What Should We Learn From The Deaths Of Fitness Icons?, Huffington Post, John Robbins, January 31, 2011
  5. ^ Pritikin, Nathan (1983). The Pritikin Promise: 28 Days to a Longer, Healthier Life. Simon & Schuster. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-0671494476. 
  6. ^ Pritikin, Nathan (1985). Diet for Runners. Simon & Schuster. p. 70. ISBN 0-671-55623-1. 
  7. ^ Nebula Final Ballots from the 1970s

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