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Ursula K. Le Guin

by Paul

Categories: People

The death has been announced of Ursula K. Le Guin. She was 88. It is almost impossible to write about Le Guin without making her sound less than she was. She is revered for her wisdom, but that wisdom is revealed in the subtle and complex humanity that pervades her best work, rather than in […]

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How to Build Your SF Reference Library: Iain M. Banks

by Paul

The first book from Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory, was published on his 30th birthday in 1984. The last novel, The Quarry, came out just days after his death in 2013. In total he wrote 14 novels as by Iain Banks, many of which had science fictional or fantastic overtones; and 12 novels and one short story […]

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Clarke at 100

by Paul

Saturday 16th December, two days away as I post this, would have been Arthur C. Clarke’s 100th birthday. Throughout the year, in celebration, we’ve been re-reading his books: The Sands of Mars (post here) Childhood’s End (post here) Earthlight (post here) The City and the Stars (post here) A Fall of Moondust (post here) 2001, […]

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Clarke at 100: The Fountains of Paradise

by Paul

Tags: Categories: Books

Reportedly, Arthur C. Clarke himself regarded The Fountains of Paradise as his best novel. He could be right. As we’ve noted already, the big hits of his career, 2001, A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama and their respective sequels, actually represent a decline in the quality of his writing. Characters have become less clearly distinguished, less fully […]

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Julian May

by Paul

The death has been reported of Julian May. She was 86. Julian May had been active in science fiction fandom in the early 1950s, and was married to the editor and publisher, T.E. Dikty, from 1953 until his death in 1991. She had a story, “Dune Roller”, published in Astounding in 1951, but most of […]

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4 “Great Peculiars” of Science Fiction

by Paul

Over at Tor.com, Walter Jon Williams has an excellent article about Cordwainer Smith, who he memorably describes as one of the “Great Peculiars” of science fiction. By this he means distinctive writers who are impossible to imitate. Start reading a story by Cordwainer Smith and you know immediately who the author is. There is something […]

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Harvey Jacobs

by Paul

On the same day that Kit Reed died, we also learned of the death of Harvey Jacobs, also, it would seem, from a brain tumor. He was 87.        Jacobs was a writer mostly known for his comic satires of near-future urban American life. Beautiful Soup, for instance, tells the story of an […]

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Kit Reed

by Paul

Tags: , Categories: People

The death has been announced of Kit Reed. She was 85 and had been suffering from a brain tumor about which, in characteristic fashion, she told no one except her closest family. Reed started writing when she was five years old, and wrote pretty much every day since then. Her first publications appeared in the […]

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Rediscovering Kurt Vonnegut

by Paul

Tags: Categories: People

The story goes that early in his career, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., had a short story rejected by a magazine. His agent told him to put the story away and try again when he became famous, “which may take a little time” the agent added. Well it didn’t actually take that long, but Vonnegut never did […]

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Jerry Pournelle

by Paul

The death has been announced of Jerry Pournelle, aged 84. He was a contentious figure who, both in life and in his fiction, strongly advocated for the military, co-editing the long-running anthology series, There Will Be War. He believed in the (American) militarization of space, and was one of the science fiction writers whose thinking […]

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