Frederik Pohl author of ‘Gateway’ dies at 93

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Illustration from the cover of Frederik Pohl’s memoir “The Way the Future Was

The best genre fiction is used as allegory. When we see a world populated by apes, or a space army populated with children, we recognize these concepts as costumes for larger ideas. The best writers in science fiction and fantasy know this, showing us utopias made real on other planets but also showing us the cost of greed and ignorance. One such writer was Frederik Pohl, who passed away this past Monday at the age of 93.

His novel, The Space Merchants (co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth) in 1952, tells a story about super-corporations taking the place of world governments, and an ad executive charged with duping the public into populating Venus. The Space Merchants was prophetic in its depiction of corporate dominance, product dependency, and sinister vertical integration.

Pohl was an avid fan of the science fiction growing up, and his love of the genre took the form of publishing, as well as acting as a literary agent for his friends and contemporaries. He served as editor of Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories in the early 1940s. From his early days in the pulps, Pohl continued work as editor for several publications including the science fiction branch of Bantam Books in the mid-1970s. However, even as editor of many science fiction magazines, Pohl was also a prolific writer, creating over 65 novels and 30 collections of short stories* to date. In 1976, Pohl won his first Nebula Award for Man Plus. Two more awards would arrive a year later (a 2nd Nebula and a Hugo) for his novel Gateway, considered by many, and Pohl himself, as his greatest novel.

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Known for being a strong proponent of the literary genre of science fiction, as well as his anti-utopian themes,  Frederik Pohl served as one of the lynch pins of sci-fi literature, and his influence will continue to be felt in the genre forever.

You can check out the backlog of his funny, thoughtful and fascinating blog, The Way the Future Blogs HERE.

*Many of these books and stories were collaborations with friends, like Isaac Asimov, Cyril M. Kornbluth and Arthur C. Clarke.

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