Ursula K. LeGuin (with Harlan Ellison) at Westercon in Portland, Oregon, in 1984. Creative Commons photo by Pip R. Lagenta.
Ursula K. LeGuin, who has died at age 88, wrote a variety of fiction and poetry. She preferred to be known as an “American novelist.” But we science fiction fans can claim her, too, as the above photograph illustrates. Her awards included a Hugo and Nebula for The Left Hand of Darkness, but she also won our Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1993, for The Dispossessed.
Science fiction writer Eric Kotani has died. His novel The Island Worlds, co-written with John Maddox Roberts and published in 1987, was a finalist in 2016 for the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.
The name “Eric Kotani” actually was a pen name for American astrophysicist Yoji Kondo, who was born in Japan.
See this excellent obituary in the Baltimore Sun. Some highlights: Kondo wanted to see the world, so he learned Portuguese, which allowed him to obtain a job in Brazil. He eventually moved to the U.S., earning a Ph.D. in astrophysics. He then worked for NASA and held various academic jobs.
When Robert Heinlein asked him questions about astronomy, the two became friends, and Kondo began his second career as a science fiction writer, collaborating with Roberts on a series of novels and also writing a Star Trek novel, Death of a Neutron Star, on his own.
Jerry Pournelle at NASFiC in 2005. Public domain photo by G.E. Rule.
If you follow science fiction news, you likely have heard by now about the death of Jerry Pournelle, who died Sept. 8, age 84.
Pournelle was arguably best known for his collaborations with Larry Niven, which earned Hugo nominations for The Mote in God’s Eye, Inferno, Lucifer’s Hammer and Footfall. He won the Prometheus Award in 1992 for Fallen Angels, a collaboration with Larry Niven and Michael Flynn, and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 2001 for The Survival of Freedom, an anthology he co-edited with John F. Carr.
The history of modern SF is one of five attempted revolutions — one success and four enriching failures. I’m going to offer a look at them from an unusual angle, a political one. This turns out to be a useful perspective because more of the history of SF than one might expect is intertwined with political questions, and SF had an important role in giving birth to at least one distinct political ideology that is alive and important today.
CAMPBELL AND HEINLEIN
The first and greatest of the revolutions came out of the minds of John Wood Campbell and Robert Heinlein, the editor and the author who invented modern science fiction. The pivotal year was 1937, when John Campbell took over the editorship of Astounding Science Fiction. He published Robert Heinlein’s first story a little over a year later. Continue reading Freedom in the Future Tense: A Political History of SF