Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Frederik Pohl, 26/11/1919-02/09/2013

I was saddened to read this morning about the death of Frederik Pohl, who was one of the leading science fiction writers. According to his website, Fred went to the hospital in respiratory distress yesterday morning and died yesterday afternoon.

I first became aware of Fred Pohl in the summer of 1973 when I found one of his stories in an SF anthology. I didn't particularly care for the story, and neither did I care for the famous collaboration, "The Space Merchants", when I read it sometime in the 70s. Pohl had a chapter in the book "Hell's cartographers", which was composed of six autobiographical essays of science fiction writers (I bought it for the Robert Silverberg chapter). Again, I wasn't over impressed by what I read, but the very fact that Pohl was included in the book meant that he was a force to be reckoned with.

At the end of the 80s, I picked up a second hand copy of his book "Heechee Rendezvous" in a street market in Jerusalem, not knowing that this was the third part of a continuing series. At first, I had great difficulty understanding the plot of the book, but after I bought the initial books of the 'Gateway' series (and the final installment), I not only understood the third book, but also developed a deep appreciation for the 'Gateway' series and Mr Pohl himself.

Presumably in the early 90s I found a copy of Pohl's autobiography, "The way the future was", which was certainly interesting, although a great deal of it was about times long past (the twenties to the forties) and not particularly relevant to its date of publication.

I have read several other Pohl books, including "Jem", "The coming of the quantum cats" and "Man plus", but none of them seem as gripping nor as funny as the Gateway series. Maybe the fault lies with me.

Anyway, Pohl had a generous innings, falling shortly before his 94th birthday.

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