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.
Of related interest: Reason magazine on our fight over ‘The Dispossessed’
Robert Heinlein signs autographs at the 1976 Worldcon. (Creative Commons photo).
The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, a project of the Cato Institute, has now been published online.
As a result, the article on science fiction author Robert Heinlein by academic and LFS member Dr. Amy Sturgis, originally published in 2008, is now available to everyone.
Sturgis argues that The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is his chief work. “Heinlein here offered a loose retelling of the American Revolution, with the revolt against tyranny set on the moon. The ‘Loonies’ rebel against the iron control of the authorities on Earth and in the process learn the lesson that ‘there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch’ or, as Heinlein states it in the novel, TANSTAAFL. Ultimately, the Loonies, like the colonials after whom they were modeled, achieve an independence of sorts, but not without great cost,” she writes.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress won a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1983, the first year the award was given.
— Tom Jackson
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.
You can read a tribute to Pournelle from Sarah Hoyt, herself a Prometheus Award winner (for her novel Darkship Thieves.)
There is also a useful Wikipedia entry.
See also the Science Fiction Encylopedia article.
Tor.com’s excellent “Five Books” section has a recent piece by Victor Milán, “Five Classic Works of SFF by Authors We Must Not Forget.” He recommends Jirel of Joiry by C.L. Moore, The Planetary Adventures of Eric John Stark by Leigh Brackett, The Dragon Masters by Jack Vance, Berserker (Berserker Series Book 1) by Fred Saberhagen and Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.
Milán won the Prometheus Award in 1986 for Cybernetic Samurai. His latest book is The Dinosaur Princess. Find out more about him.
By Anders Monsen
Jack Vance, science fiction grandmaster, died on Sunday, May 26, 2013. Born on August 28 1916, John Holbrook Vance wrote over 50 novels and many more short stories, most published under the name Jack Vance. His works ranged from science fiction and fantasy to mystery and regional fiction. Vance’s first published story was “The World Thinker” in 1945 for Thrilling Wonder Stories, and his first published book The Dying Earth, by Hillman Press in 1950. His last novel, Lurulu, appeared in 2004, and an autobiography in 2009.
Though he was approaching 100, and I always expected to read something about his death, I felt a deep shock when I finally received the news. I have read all his books, many of them multiple times. They are like old friends. I have nominated and voted for many of his works for the Prometheus Hall of Fame. Now he is dead. Will it matter if he ever wins? Would he have cared to have won while still alive? I do not know. Reflecting on his books is like reflecting on the lives of long-time friends.
Continue reading In memoriam Jack Vance: 1916 — 2013
By Eric S. Raymond
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