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Frederik Pohl

Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (born November 26, 1919) is an American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over seventy-five years — from his first published work, "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna" (1937), through his most recent novel, All the Lives He Led (2011), to articles and essays published in 2012.

Pohl is the son of Frederik George Pohl (a salesman) and Anna Jane Mason. Pohl Sr. held a number of jobs, and the Pohls lived in such wide-flung locations as Texas, California, New Mexico and the Panama Canal Zone. The family settled in Brooklyn when Pohl was around seven.

He attended Brooklyn Technical High School, but dropped out at the age of 17. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary diploma from Brooklyn Tech.

While a teenager, he co-founded the New York–based Futurians fan group, and began lifelong friendships with Donald Wollheim, Isaac Asimov and others who would become important writers and editors. He published a science fiction fanzine called Mind of Man.

During 1936, Pohl joined the Young Communist League because of its positions for unions and against racial prejudice, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. He became president of the local Flatbush III Branch of the YCL in Brooklyn. Pohl has said that after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, the party line changed and he could no longer support it, at which point he left.

Pohl served in the U.S. Army from April 1943 until November 1945, rising to sergeant as an air corps weatherman. After training in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Colorado, he primarily was stationed in Italy with the 456th Bombardment Group.

Pohl has been married five times. His first wife, Leslie Perri, was another Futurian; they were married in August 1940 but divorced in 1944. He then married Dorothy LesTina in Paris in August 1945 while both were serving in the military in Europe; the marriage ended in 1947. During 1948, he married Judith Merril; they had a daughter, Ann. Pohl and Merril divorced in 1952. In 1953, he married Carol M. Ulf Stanton, with whom he had three children and collaborated on several books; they separated in 1977 and were divorced in 1983. Since 1984, Pohl has been married to science-fiction expert and academic Elizabeth Anne Hull, PhD.

Since 1984, he has lived in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He was previously a resident of Middletown, New Jersey.

Pohl began writing in the late 1930s, using pseudonyms for most of his early works: Pohl's first published piece was a poem, "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna," in the October, 1937 issue of Amazing Stories credited to "Elton Andrews."

From 1939 to 1943, Pohl was the editor of two pulp magazines - Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories. Stories by Pohl often appeared in these magazines, but never under his own name. Work written in collaboration with Cyril M. Kornbluth was credited to S.D. Gottesman or Scott Mariner; other collaborative work (with any combination of Kornbluth, Dirk Wylie or Robert A.W. Lownes) was credited to Paul Dennis Lavond. For Pohl's solo work, stories were credited to James MacCreigh (or, for one story only, Warren F. Howard.)

In his autobiography, Pohl says that he stopped editing the two magazines at roughly the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Works by "Gottesman," "Lavond," and "MacCreigh" continued to appear in various SF pulp magazines throughout the 1940s.

After World War II, Pohl worked as an advertising copywriter and then as a copywriter and book editor for Popular Science.
Pohl started a career as a literary agent in 1937, but it was a sideline for him until after WWII, when he began doing it full time. He ended up "representing more than half the successful writers in science fiction" — for a short time, he was the only agent Isaac Asimov ever had — though his agency did not succeed financially, and he closed it down in the early 1950s.
Pohl then began publishing material under his own name. He collaborated with Kornbluth, a longtime friend and fellow Futurian, co-authoring a number of short stories and several novels, including a dystopian satire of a world ruled by the advertising agencies, The Space Merchants.

Though the pen-names of "Gottesman", "Lavond" and "MacCreigh" were retired by the early 1950s, Pohl still occasionally used pseudonyms even after he began to publish work under his real name. These occasional pseudonyms, all of which date from the early 1950s to the early 1960s, included Charles Satterfield, Paul Flehr, Ernst Mason, Jordan Park (two collaborative novels with Kornbluth) and Edson McCann (one collaborative novel with Lester del Rey).

From the late 1950s until 1969, Pohl served as editor of Galaxy and if magazines, taking over at some point from the ailing H. L. Gold. Under his leadership, if won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine for 1966, 1967 and 1968. Pohl hired Judy-Lynn del Rey as his assistant editor at Galaxy and if.

In the mid-1970s, Pohl acquired and edited novels for Bantam Books, published as "Frederik Pohl Selections"; notable were Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren and Joanna Russ's The Female Man.

Also in the 1970s, Pohl reemerged as a novel writer in his own right, with books such as Man Plus and the Heechee series. He won back-to-back Nebula awards with Man Plus in 1976 and Gateway, the first Heechee novel, in 1977. Gateway also won the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Two of his stories have also earned him Hugo awards: "The Meeting" (with Kornbluth) tied in 1973 and "Fermi and Frost" won in 1986. Another award-winning novel is Jem (1980), winner of the National Book Award.
Pohl continues to write. He finished a novel begun by Arthur C. Clarke, The Last Theorem, which was published on August 5, 2008. Pohl's latest novel, All the Lives He Led, was released on April 12, 2011.

His works include not only science fiction but also articles for Playboy and Family Circle and nonfiction books. For a time, he was the official authority for the Encyclopædia Britannica on the subject of Emperor Tiberius. (He wrote a book on the subject of Tiberius, as "Ernst Mason".)

A number of his short stories take a satirical look at consumerism and advertising in the 1950s and 1960s: "The Wizards of Pung's Corners," where flashy, over-complex military hardware proved useless against farmers with shotguns, and "The Tunnel Under the World," where an entire community of seeming-humans is held captive by advertising researchers. ("The Wizards of Pung's Corners" was freely translated into Chinese and then freely translated back into English as "The Wizard-Masters of Peng-Shi Angle" in the first edition of Pohlstars (1984)).

Pohl's Law is either "No one is ever ready for anything," or "Nothing is so good that somebody, somewhere will not hate it".

He was a frequent guest on Long John Nebel's radio show from the 1950s to the early 1970s, and an international lecturer.
Pohl was the eighth President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, taking office in 1974.

Pohl's work has been an influence on a wide variety of other science fiction writers, some of whom appear in the 2010 anthology, Gateways: Original New Stories Inspired by Frederik Pohl, edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull.

Space Opera

Heechee

Gateway? (1977)
Beyond the Blue Event Horizon? (1980)
Heechee Rendezvous? (1984)
The Annals of the Heechee? (1987)
The Gateway Trip? (1990)
The Boy Who Would Live Forever?: A Novel of Gateway (2004)

Space Merchants

The Space Merchants (1953) (with Cyril M. Kornbluth?)
The Merchants' War (1984)
Venus, Inc. (Omnibus edition, 1985)

On the net: Wikipedia,



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