Posts tagged ‘All the Lives He Led’


Detail: Cover by Ean Taylor for 'The Way the Future Was' (1983 Granada edition)


Fred’s death was reported and mourned all over the world. Here are excerpts from just a small selection of the remembrances from fans, friends and the media.

  • “Grand master passes through the final Gateway.” —Simon Sharwood, The Register.

  • “On Monday, September 2nd, 2013, one of the last remaining great figures in the science fiction genre passed away. Frederik Pohl was 93 years old, with a long and distinguished career writing, selling and editing science-fiction stories.” —Andrew Liptak, Kirkus Reviews.

  • “Like some magnificent sequoia, he was both a vibrant, majestic, respirating presence and a token of a distant, almost unimaginable past. He was given a Grandmaster Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America twenty years ago, but that tribute hardly begins to do justice to his immense accomplishments.” —Paul Di Filippo, Barnes and Noble Review.

  • “Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (Nov. 26, 1919 – Sept. 2, 2013) was almost a living artifact of a bygone era in science fiction, as well as one of the genre’s most fertile and perennially refreshed talents. Born in the immediate aftermath of World War I, he died in the epoch of Google Glass and the Large Hadron Collider, without ever losing his imaginative spontaneity or intellectual curiosity, or his ability to upset and disturb the genre consensus.” —Paul St John Mackintosh, TeleRead.

  • “弗雷德里克·波尔是为数不多的可以担当起“科幻小说大师”头衔的科幻作家.” —The Beijing News.

  • “Frederik Pohl was a science-fiction author of extraordinary longevity and accomplishment. In hundreds of stories between 1940 and 2010, and dozens of longer works from 1953, he became the sharpest and most precise satirist in the science-fiction world. Kurt Vonnegut may have created greater myths of the awfulness of America, and Philip K Dick may have had a profounder understanding of the human costs of living in a unreal world; but Pohl — from experience garnered in the field of advertising — knew exactly how to describe the consumerist world that began to come into being after the Second World War.” —John Clute, The Independent (UK).

  • “In all, he published more than 60 novels. His most lauded effort was Jem: The Making of a Utopia (1979), which remains the only science fiction title to have won the National Book Award.” —The Independent (Eire).

  • “La ciencia ficción tiene nombres que cualquier que se diga fanático tiene que saber. Uno de ellos es Frederik Pohl, y si su nombre no te suena, en este artículo te contamos por qué este hombre que acaba de pasar a la inmortalidad a los 93 años contribuyó a que cientos de miles se hagan fanáticos de este género.” —Nico Varonas, Neoteo.

  • “Described as prickly and stubborn (he was married five times and divorced four), Pohl resisted the Internet for years, according to family and friends, but in 2009 launched a blog called ‘The Way the Future Blogs.’ Like much of his writing throughout his life, it was funny, skeptical and perceptive and it won a Hugo Award.” —Ben Steelman, Star News Online.

  • “科幻黄金时代硕果仅存的科幻大师之一的Frederik Pohl于9月2日因呼吸困难(respiratory distress)去世,享年93岁。Frederik Pohl以科幻期刊编辑和作家的双重身份闻名,他在60年代作为科幻期刊的编辑连续多年获得雨果奖,之后又以作家身份获得了多次雨果奖和星云奖。” —Chinese Writers Network.

  • “A stickler for detail, Pohl was determined to get as much science correct as possible in his books. His research took him all over the world and he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2004, when he published the final novel in the Heechee saga, he apologised to his readers for having suggested, in Gateway, that aliens might have taken refuge in a black hole. With the physics of black holes having been more fully understood in the intervening years, Pohl acknowledged that nothing and no one could exist within a black hole.” —The Telegraph.

  • “Avec un coup d’avance et l’humour noir qui caractérise son style, son œuvre dé voile , pour l’humanité, un avenir inquiétant en partie advenu: omniprésence de l’informatique, montée du terrorisme, raréfaction des ressources, pollution, surpopulation, crise du logement, fanatisme religieux. . . . Après Jack Vance et Richard Matheson , c’est la troisième figure majeure de la SF américaine qui s’éteint cette année.” —Macha Séry, Le Monde.

  • “Despite being 93, he worked to ‘Safeguard Humanity’ to the end.” —Eric Klien, Lifeboat Foundation.

  • Continue reading ‘Obituaries and Tributes to Frederik Pohl’ »

Campi Flegrei (Photo by Donar Reiskoffer).

Campi Flegrei (Photo by Donar Reiskoffer).

The whole of Yellowstone National Park is basically the gigantic caldera of a super-volcano, the kind that can mess up the whole world’s climate when it blows. The Yellowstone one is pretty regular about how often it does blow, too, and at the moment it’s about 6,000 years overdue for its next ka-boom. One of the postulates — the “big lies” that an author is permitted to tell to set up his story — in my latest novel, All the Lives He Led is that sometime before the story gets going Yellowstone did blow sky-high, covering much of the country with volcanic ash and dust and thus converting the U.S.A. from the richest country in the world to something with approximately the Gross National Product of Liechtenstein.

This means our hero can’t make a decent living in America. Therefore he goes to Italy, where he gets a job in the theme park the Italians have made out of the 2,000-year-old ruins of Pompeii.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, as it happens, during World War II I was stationed in Italy for a time with the U. S. Army Air Force, first with a B24 group on the Adriatic side of the peninsula, then with AAF/MTO (translation: Army Air Force, Mediterranean Theater of Operations headquarters) in Caserta, near Naples. What I am getting at, in my perhaps unfortunately highly discursive way, is that for a long time I have been interested in (a) supervolcanos like Yellowstone and (b) the region of the Italian coast around Naples.

And I have — alarmingly — recently discovered that those two areas of interest have become one.

You see, the whole territory around Naples is what the old Romans called the Campi Flegrei (meaning “the burning fields”), and Lake Avernus was described by Virgil, in his Aeneid, as the entrance to Hell. Modern observers have not confirmed that identification, but what they have established is that the lake is actually the water-filled crater of a dormant, but not necessarily dead, volcano.

Like Yellowstone, the area is marked by fumaroles (vents of steam), pots of boiling mud and, most disconcertingly, irregular raising and lowering of ground level in some places by as much as eleven feet, which has not been good for some of the constructions on those sites; a hospital and many, many homes have been destroyed. There is a big difference between the Yellowstone caldera and the one for the Phlegrean Fields, though. Most of the Phlegrean territory is underwater, stretching from the famous Isle of Capri to the less celebrated island of Ischia and including much of my dear unkempt city of Naples. (Another difference is population. In winter, at least, Yellowstone is inhabited largely by bears, while the Phlegrean Fields area is home to four million human beings,)

So how dangerous is the situation? Well, no one exactly knows. It would take quite a lot of drilling down into the worrisome ground to get the evidence to predict just what is going to happen there.

That drilling seemed about to start a while ago, because Giuseppe De Natale, the search director for Italy’s National Observatory for Geophysics and Volcanology, was prepared to get it started with a $14 million course of drilling. That didn’t happen, though Critics reminded Naples Mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino of what happened in Indonesia in 2006 when a mud volcano erupted after similar drilling was done, killing a few people and rendering tens of thousands homeless. Mayor Iervolino took no chances. She stopped all drilling until somebody could prove to her that it was safe.

(By the way, people who have been to Naples and seen Mt. Vesuvius puffing its ominous little trail of steam on the horizon may wonder what part this other volcano plays in the Phlegrean Fields scenario. The answer is none at all. Vesuvius, which destroyed three little cities in one 48-hour rampage back in 79 A.D., is just too trivial to worry about when considering the threat posed by the Phlegrean Fields.)

All the Lives He Led


Oh, and by the way, have you noticed that Booklist Online’s latest list of the ten best science-fiction and fantasy books of the year and, oh, my goodness, Number One on the list is All the Lives He Led by You Know Who. (Number Two is old friend Larry Niven’s The Best of Larry Niven and the third begins with a D, but let’s not hear any loose talk about alphabetizing lists of titles around here.)

How I Came to Edit Frederik Pohl
Guest post by James Frenkel

James Frenkel (Photo by Joshua Frenkel)

James Frenkel (Photo by Joshua Frenkel)

For years I wanted to edit the works of Frederik Pohl. I loved his fiction, and not just the novels, but a lot of his stories as well. I also thought he was a terrific editor, because I read Galaxy and Worlds of If magazines in the 1960s, and when Fred was the editor they published a lot of great science fiction. So when I starting to work in book publishing and then began to edit science fiction for Dell Books, I thought it would be extremely cool to get Fred to write for Dell.

But I didn’t have a chance. The first time I ever really talked with him, at, I think, the Secondary Universe Conference at Queensborough Community College in New York City in 1969, he was polite, but I was not even close to being an editor yet. I was still in college, and meeting a bunch of big-name science fiction people all at once, and overwhelmed by the experience. It seemed to me that everywhere I looked was someone whose books or stories I had read: Poul Anderson, Ben Bova, Lester Del Rey, Gordon R. Dickson, Frederik Pohl … and lots of others, including Ivor Rogers, who wasn’t an SF writer, but did write the occasional article for Time Magazine. and was a fascinating participant.

So years later, when I was now editing SF for Dell, I knew who Fred was, and I knew that he was hot — Gateway had just been published, and if he hadn’t been famous enough before, for all of his previous accomplishments, Gateway made him nothing short of the hottest SF writer on the planet. He was published by Del Rey Books, which was arguably the best sf and fantasy publisher in the world at that moment. It took enormous courage for me to even introduce myself to him, but I managed to do it — I think it was during Lunacon, New York’s annual SF convention. And then I asked him if he’d like to have lunch sometime and maybe talk about publishing a book with Dell.

I have the feeling that he humored me because he knew that an editor for a major publisher could afford to take him out for a very nice lunch at a fine New York restaurant. I don’t know for sure, but he did agree to lunch with me, and we did so, at a nice place on the East Side in Kips Bay … I remember it was Italian food, and I was really nervous. And when I asked him what he was working on — a classic opening line for an editor to dangle the bait of publication to an author — he readily told me that he had just finished the sequel to Gateway … and Del Rey was going to publish it, of course.

And before I could ask much more about future books, he let me know that he was very happy wit Del Rey. They were paying him well, advertising and promoting his books well, and he had more books under contract to them.

Basically he was telling me that it would be a cold day in Hell before I had any chance at all of getting to buy the right to publish one of his books. So why, I thought, was I buying him lunch?

Continue reading ‘Bearding the Wild Pohl’ »

From the blog team:

Fred’s been a little busy lately starting another book, so we’re taking it on ourselves to give you some of his publishing news. St. Joseph’s Day seems an appropriate day to tell you about Fred’s new novel, set in Italy. All the Lives He Led is due out April 12 from Tor. From the press release:

All the Lives He LedThe year is 2079. In the shadow of Mount Vesuvius a virtual reality theme park has been erected for Il Giubelo — the celebration honoring the 2000th anniversary of the volcano’s great eruption. Tens of thousands of tourists from around the world have converged on the site for the occasion. But trouble is brewing in Pompei. . . .

Brad Sheridan, an indentured servant from a post-disaster United States, has been hired to work as an “authentic” ancient Pompeian wine seller for the event. Brad already has his hands full — with the woman of his dreams, and with troubling events that threaten to cost him his job. But as the fateful day draws near, he uncovers a much bigger nightmare: A terrorist cell is devising a plot to draw attention to their cause by creating a disaster — one so massive it could wipe out humanity.

With his trademark eye for humanity, Frederik Pohl has created a multi-layered story about a group of people caught in the shifting current of political unrest. All the Lives He Led is gripping science fiction — a new masterwork from the Grand Master.

Also in April, Orb Books will bring back into print Fred’s classic novel Man Plus. A gripping story of cybernetics, political intrigue and the creation of a superman, Man Plus won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1976 and was nominated for the Hugo and several other awards.