RIP, science fiction grand master Frederik Pohl

Frederik Pohl, one of our oldest living science fiction masters, died on September 2. I was privileged to know Fred for more than twenty years, and looked up to him as a writer and colleague (I was honored to contribute the story "Chicken Little" to Gateways, an anthology in Fred's honor, which also included work by Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, Vernor Vinge, Harry Harrison, Joe Haldeman, and many others).

Pohl was an active figure in science fiction right up until the day of his death -- literally. He updated his blog mere hours before he went. That blog, by the way, won him the Hugo award for Best Fan Writer, which went alongside his Hugos for best novel (for Gateway), and the Hugos won by Galaxy magazine under his editorship. It's no coincidence that he was celebrated as a writer, an editor and a fan -- Pohl covered all the bases in the field. The Space Merchants, a satirical novel co-written with Cyril Kornbluth, remains one of my favorite novels of all time -- a trenchant and hilarious commentary on mass commodification and the human cost of using markets as the sole arbiter of worth.

My most sincere condolences to his family and friends, especially his granddaughter Emily Pohl-Weary, his daughter Ann Pohl, and his wife Elizabeth Anne Hull. Fred will be sorely missed.

(Image: The Way the Future Blogs)

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  1. Spocko says:

    I loved the Gateway series because one whole book was spent on him getting psychotherapy. And it helped!

  2. I had the great fortune to meet him in 2011. As it says in his obit, he was very active in his community - which is where I live. I remember back in high school reading Gateway and loving it. When I got to the end, and read the about the author section (yes, someone reads those), I found out he lived in my own town! He was even in the phone book! However, I was terrified of being some sort of stalker, so I never acted upon it.

    Fast forward 21 years later, I met him at our local library. I told him this story and he told me I should have stopped by. He said he loved when people talked to him about his writing, and that was why he was listed in the directory! Despite being fairly ill at the time, and having recently had a nasty fall that left him with a large cut on his balding head, he was spry and quick witted. I sheepishly got his autograph and a picture to remember the moment. I was even showing the picture to my kids a few months ago, sharing with them my enjoyment at meeting such a distinguished writer.

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