Posts tagged ‘Gene Wolfe’

Frederik Pohl


By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull

Windycon 41 was a lot of fun for me this year, especially the session dedicated to Frederik Pohl and his impact on science fiction.

Some highlights: We opened with a solemn presentation to me of a polished brass plaque which appeared on a commemorative bench at Loncon this year by Helen Montgomery and Dave McCarty from the executive committee of Chicon 7 and ISFiC. I was truly touched.

Gene Wolfe, our friend who lived in nearby Barrington till just recently, joined the panel at the last minute, and set the tone for the panel and made the audience laugh when he talked about how upset he was when Fred and I got married, and I soon after stopped being one of the hosts of our local fan group, SFFNCS (a.k.a. Science Fiction Fans of the Northwest Chicago Suburbs, pronounced “Sphinx”). In my defense, being Fred’s wife took a lot more time than being his girlfriend! Not to mention that I was holding down a full-time job at Harper College and developing their Honors Program, as well as the fact that Fred and I did a lot of traveling together to some pretty interesting and exotic places around the world.

Fred’s long-time editor Jim Frenkel kept us focused on the description of the panel: Fred’s multifaceted contributions to the field. He revealed some of what it was like to work editorially with Fred, who could always recognize a good editorial suggestion when he received it. We all agreed that all of Fred’s experience as an editor both for magazines and for books had sharpened his fiction skills and the ability to self-edit, and his period of agenting had also made him very aware of how important marketability is to a writer’s career.

I admitted that Fred was already a Big Name Pro and had a lot of experiences that I knew about only second hand when I met him at the Worldcon in Kansas City in 1976. I had in fact, taught The Space Merchants in my SF class but changed to Gateway in the late ’70s.

Long-time Chicago-area fan Neil Rest talked about the sensation Fred made on local fans when he came with me to one of parties held every month at the apartment of George Price (of Advent:Publishers) —or perhaps it was at one of the weekly meetings on the North Side called “Thursday,” quite possibly at the home of Alice Bentley, who might have been still a teenager or at least wasn’t yet a bookstore owner. We did a lot better at remembering our feelings than actual details, as will happen over more than 30 years.

From his beginnings in the New York area in the ’30s, Fred never gave up fanac and his sense of being a fan when he became a pro. I told how thrilled Fred was at Foolscap in Seattle in 2000 where Fred and Ginjer Buchanan (then an editor at Ace) were co-fan guests of honor. They called the con the “Fred and Ginjer Show.” In the ’30s and ’40s, Fred told me many times, he was very fond of the beautiful and talented Ginger Rogers, who he said, had to do all the steps Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels.

Much more recently, Fred was also entirely thrilled in 2010 when he won a Hugo as Best Fan Writer at Aussiecon for his work in this blog. He was happy to give credit wherever due, and thanked his blogmeister, Leah A. Zeldes, who allowed him to concentrate on writing without having to worry about the technicalities of the Internet posting, as well as Dick Smith, who enabled Fred to use his obsolete word processor to write both fiction and non-fiction.

Continue reading ‘Windycon Honors Frederik Pohl’s Contributions to SF’ »

Gene Wolfe  via Cory Doctorow

Gene Wolfe

Despite having lived within easy driving distance of Gene Wolfe’s home for the last quarter century — and having read compulsively in those seriously addictive novels he keeps writing — I hesitate to say I know Gene Wolfe. He’s one of those people whom you think you know really well, and then, without warning, some new side of him shows up that you never suspected was there and all of a sudden you discover there are important parts of him that you’ve never known at all.

In the case of Gene Wolfe, I thought I had him pegged as a literate and gentle guy who just had this strange writing trait of making the nicest character in one of his greatest novels a full-time professional torturer whose skill was measured by how much agonized screaming his clients produced. All right, that’s a facet of his character that I could accept; because literary people are expected to explore contradictions in the characters they invent.

But I wasn’t aware that he invented other things than storybook characters until I learned that one of his inventions was a critical part in the machine the Pringles people use to make their potato chips. And then the most unexpected insight of all that came when he and I were invited to discuss our military experiences. My own report wasn’t very exciting, but when Gene’s turn came, he spun this scary yarn of the kid he was when the Korean War took him away from aiming to be an engineer at Texas A & M and repackaged him as a teenaged Marine swept from basic training to the south side of a Korean hill whose north side was populated by a large number of Chinese troops whose main mission in life was to kill everybody on the other side.

He’s a treasure, this Gene Wolfe is, and not just an admired writer but a useful asset to the human race.

Gateways, original stories inspired by Frederik Pohl, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull

Just a reminder that our giveaway program for that great new anthology, Gateways, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull, ends on Monday. So, if you haven’t entered so far, get your entry in fast!

To enter the drawing, e-mail blog @ with your name and snail-mail address.

The winning names will be pulled out of a hat by Gene Wolfe, one of the fine authors represented in the book. Two copies will go to folks in the USA; all the others will go to people in other countries.

Gateways, original stories inspired by Frederik Pohl, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull

We’re happy to be able to tell you that we love all of you, not just the ones who live in the U. S. of A., but also all of you who happen to live in some place whose current capital is not Washington D.C. as well. To show that we mean it, we’re going to add our own personal giveaway program for that great new book, Gateways, to the one that was offered by our publisher, Tor, through GoodReads.

So, if you live in any country that is not the USA, from Argentina and Canada to Zanzibar and Zimbabwe, and would like to enter the drawing, e-mail blog @ with your name and snail-mail address. The winning names will be pulled out of a hat by Gene Wolfe, one of the fine authors represented in the book. Two of the copies will go to folks in the USA, so you guys can enter, too; all the others will go to people from elsewhere.

If you’ve already forgotten what a great book this is, here’s what the San Diego Union-Tribune said about it:

“Science fiction has been blessed and bolstered by the 70-year career of Frederik Pohl, whose wife, Betty Anne Hull, edited this collection as a 90th birthday gift for him. David Brin has a long and shiny story toward the front of the book, ‘Shoresteading,’ Cory Doctorow has the thought-provoking ‘Chicken Little’ toward the end, and every story, poem and appreciation in between is well worth your time … and the time it’ll take you to find any of the Pohl works you’ve missed.”

And, oh, by the way, just to sweeten the pot, every winning copy will be autographed by Betty Anne Hull, creator of the book; Frederik Pohl, who is lucky enough to be her husband; and Gene Wolfe, the winner-picker.

(List closes on November 15th. Enter before then!)

From the blog team:

Gateways, original stories inspired by Frederik Pohl, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull

Good news, Pohl fans! Goodreads is giving away some copies of Gateways, the just-released anthology of original new stories influenced by Frederik Pohl written by some of the top sf writers in the field and edited by Fred’s wife, Elizabeth Anne Hull. The deadline for entering the contest is July 31, so sign up soon!

Meanwhile, Betty wrote about the book for the Tor/Forge newsletter:

To celebrate my husband’s 90th orbit of the sun, I’m proud to have persuaded eighteen of the top writers in science fiction to contribute a story, and then to write an afterword, for this special anthology. Moreover, there are nine other appreciations of Fred, and these non-fiction pieces are exciting for me and for any serious fan who wants to know more about how we got where we are today in this literary movement Trufans call SF. For example, the memoirs by Bob Silverberg, Jim Gunn, Gardner Dozois, and Harry Harrison — themselves highly influential people who helped make the genre more respectable around the world — tell as much about the field and the way it was cultivated as they do about Fred and the way he encouraged each of them personally.

Elizabeth Anne Hull. Photo by Barb Knoff.

Elizabeth Anne Hull. Photo by Barb Knoff.

The main event here, of course, is the science fiction. Joe Haldeman, Mike Resnick, Frank Robinson, Harry Harrison, and Jody Lynn Nye each wrote a superb new tale. Many of the stories are inspired, either directly or indirectly, by Fred’s own fiction, most commonly by Fred’s favorite tale — the one he claims he is willing to have engraved on his monument when he dies — “Day Million.” I was delighted to realize that Gene Wolfe wrote that kind of singularity story, set in a world in an unspecified time — presumably our future — when humans had changed so much that their very nature has to be explained, or in Gene’s case, demonstrated by his first-person narrator.

The title of Cory Doctorow’s novella leaves no doubt that he was influenced by The Space Merchants, but what he has done with the concept is entirely fresh and original, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that fifty years from now “Chicken Little” will have become a classic in its own right.

In Jim Gunn’s remarkable four first-person narratives of intelligent alien races, he lets the aliens reveal themselves by what they say and how they say it, and by what they each choose to tell us about themselves. I believe Jim was influenced not only by Fred’s many novels and stories in which he created original alien species but also by the many summers he and Fred spent critiquing young writers in the workshops at the University of Kansas.

Then there are some stories that are … well, Fred Pohl-ish stories, like Vernor Vinge’s piece. I was tickled to see Vernor write a story that I think Fred would be proud to have written himself.

Sometimes Fred’s influence was as an editor, when he put a writer’s work before the public. I believe Sheri Tepper’s satiric gifts were encouraged by Fred, and Ben Bova shows in his story that he understands that the sense of humor is just as important as the “sensawunda.”

This project has been a labor of love, not just for me, but also, judging from the fact that all the super-busy contributors found time to send their new works — Neil Gaiman’s coming all the way from China! — for everyone involved.

Oh, and one other thing I must mention: Fred has been nominated for a Hugo for Best Fan Writer — for Be sure to check it out. The Master is still happily writing every day, and is currently putting some finishing touches on his newest novel, All the Lives He Led, scheduled for next spring from Tor.

This also seems a good time to remind you that the deadline for voting on the Hugo Awards is July 31 as well!

From the blog team:

By popular request, here is the table of contents for Gateways, an anthology of original stories inspired by Frederik Pohl, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull, and due out this summer from Tor:

Gateways, original stories inspired by Frederik Pohl, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull

  • Elizabeth Anne Hull, Introduction
  • David Brin, “Shoresteading”
  • Phyllis and Alex Eisenstein, “Von Neumann’s Bug”
  • Isaac Asimov, Appreciation
  • Joe Haldeman, “Sleeping Dogs”
  • Larry Niven, “Gates (Variations)”
  • Gardner Dozois, Appreciation
  • James Gunn, “Tales from the Spaceship Geoffrey”
  • Gregory Benford and Elisabeth Malartre, “Shadows of the Lost”
  • Connie Willis, Appreciation
  • Vernor Vinge, “A Preliminary Assessment of the Drake Equation, Being an Excerpt from the Memories of Star Captain Y.T. Lee”
  • Greg Bear, “Warm Sea”
  • Robert J. Sawyer, Appreciation
  • Frank M. Robinson, “The Errand Boy”
  • Gene Wolfe, “King Rat”
  • Robert Silverberg, Appreciation
  • Harry Harrison, “The Stainless Steel Rat and the Pernicious Porcuswine”
  • Jody Lynn Nye, “Virtually, A Cat”
  • David Marusek, Appreciation
  • Brian W. Aldiss, “The First-Born”
  • Ben Bova, “Scheherezade and the Storytellers”
  • Joan Slonczewski, Appreciation
  • Sheri S. Tepper, “The Flight of the Denartesestel Radichan”
  • Neil Gaiman, “The [Backspace] Merchants”
  • Emily Pohl-Weary, Appreciation
  • Mike Resnick, “On Safari”
  • Cory Doctorow, “Chicken Little”
  • James Frenkel, Afterword