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Tag: Frederik Pohl

The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Jem, by Frederik Pohl

The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Jem, by Frederik Pohl

Cover by Irving Freeman
Cover by Irving Freeman

The National Book Awards were established in 1936 by the American Booksellers Association. Although the Awards were not given out between 1942 and 1949 because of World War II and its aftermath, the awards were reestablished in 1950 and given out annually since then. Since 1950, only US authors are eligible for the award, which is designed to celebrate the best of American literature, expand its audience, and enhance the value of good writing in America. From 1980 through 1983, the American Book Awards were announced as a variation of the National Book Awards, run by the Academy of the American Book Awards.

While the National Book Awards were selected by a jury of writers, the TABA program relied on entry fees, committees, and voters made up of groups of publishers, booksellers, librarians, and authors and critics. The change was controversial and a group of authors including Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, and Susan Sontag, among others, called for a boycott of the award.

The American Book Award included genre categories, presenting awards for mysteries, science fiction, and westerns. Two awards were presented in the science fiction category, one for hardcover, one for paperback. The genre awards were abandoned after a single year. The only winner of the National Book Award for Hardcover Science Fiction was Frederik Pohl’s Jem. The Awards were presented in New York on May 1, 1980 at a ceremony hosted by William F. Buckley and John Chancellor. Isaac Asimov presented the science fiction awards.

I tend to find a lot of Pohl’s novels depressing, even while acknowledging he can write biting satire. His satire tends to be the darkest of humor, and Jem is certainly dark. It opens at a scientific conference held in Bulgaria in the near future, sometime after 2024. Earth has been divided into three massive alliances which are based on the products of the countries involved, The People countries that provide labor, the Oil countries that provide power, and the Food countries. Pohl introduces four individuals at the conference, Ana Dimitrova, a translator from the food bloc, her lover, Abdul Dulla, a scientist from the people countries, Danny Dalehouse, a scientist from the food countries, and Marge Menninger, a soldier from the food countries.

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Birthday Reviews: Frederik Pohl’s “Bialystok Stronghead and the Mermen”

Birthday Reviews: Frederik Pohl’s “Bialystok Stronghead and the Mermen”

Cover by Frank R. Paul

Cover by Frank R. Paul

Frederik Pohl was born on November 26, 1919 and died on September 2, 2013.

Pohl won the Hugo Award seven times. He won for Best Professional Magazine from 1966-1968 for If, each time beating himself for his work on Galaxy. In 1973, he won his first fiction Hugo for the short story “The Meeting,” in collaboration with the late C.M. Kornbluth. The story tied with R.A. Lafferty’s “Eurema’s Dam.” He won the Hugo for Best Novel in 1978 for Gateway and a second short story Hugo in 1986 for “Fermi and Frost.” In 2010 he won his last Hugo, for Best Fan Writer. Pohl won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in consecutive years for Man Plus and Gateway. His novels Gateway and The Years of the City both won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Gateway also won the Prix Apollo and Jem won the American Book Award. In 1996, Pohl won the Clareson Award from the Science Fiction Research Association.

Pohl received the first Skylark Award from NESFA in 1966. In 1989, he was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame. He was named a Grand Master by the SFWA in 1993, received the Forry Award from LASFS in 1994, and the Milford Award in 1995. In 1998 he received the Gallun Award from I-Con and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. He received Lifetime Achievement Awards from Writers and Illustrators of the Future and from the Prix Utopia in 2000. In 2009, he was awarded the Eaton Award and in 2013 was recognized for Distinguished Service by the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. He was a Guest of Honor at LACon I, the 30th Worldcon, held in Los Angeles in 1972.

“Bialystok Stronghead and the Mermen” was written for the bid to host the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago. It was the first of several stories commissioned by the bid from a variety of authors for promotional purposes and was given out at various conventions. Pohl’s story was the first to appear and has not been reprinted. Pohl, and later authors, were asked to write a story which featured a lantern-jawed super-scientist with the initials B.S., his brilliant girlfriend Elaine (Pohl supplied the last name, used throughout the series), and the arch villain Dr. D. Vice.

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Holding History

Holding History

sfwa-bulletin-11eBay.  It’s a silly place to be for any amount of time, not to mention its hideous potential as a money-sink.  I do spend time there, though, on a daily basis, and money as well.  It’s one of the sources I use to replace the stock I’ve sold at a convention, and it comes in handy to add to my personal collection on those rare occasions when I have disposable income.

Three weeks ago as I write this, I was lucky to have won a small lot of magazines that popped up on my radar because of the authors included therein.  I was up against another collector, and although the bidding was spirited in the last day or so I walked away with the prize.  And what was it, I hear you ask?

It was a dozen issues of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America dating from 1967, the earliest being #10.  After I paid for them – with shipping, a little over a dollar each – the seller found another issue dated 1970 and threw it in.

A few days later the package came, and I slit the tape carefully to open it.  They don’t look like much: just 8.5×11″ pages folded in half and stapled to make a booklet.  The pages are browned; the few photos are black and white.  All in all, pretty unimposing, really.

So why were my hands shaking as I lifted them gently out of the box?

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Estate Your Business, Please

Estate Your Business, Please

Christopher Anvil, Jerome Bixby, Raymond Z. Gallun.

raymond-z-gallunA couple of years ago, Michael Capobianco, then President of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), approached me for help on a project.

See, I’ve sort of acquired a reputation as a genre historian, and a fair number of editors and publishers have come to me over the past decade in hopes that I might know who was in charge of dead authors’ literary estates so that they could gain permission to reprint a story and make payments.

I had already run across a few agents and individuals while writing about one Past Master or another.  I also had access to a network of other sf tweaks who might have data on the ones I didn’t.  This put me in a good position to research the list and not only correct it but add to it.

P. Schuyler Miller, Ross Rocklynn, Wallace West.

What Capo wanted from me was my help in updating and correcting the list of estates that SFWA publishes each year in the SFWA Directory.

This is important to the organization, as the information is vital to keeping classic material by founding members available to a new readership, not to mention making sure that the information on writers who had passed more recently stayed current.

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