Posted on January 21, 2009
Posted by John Scalzi
You go there now. That’s an order. And if you don’t know who Frederik Pohl is, please launch yourself into a wood chipper. That is all.
saw that this morning on sfsignal.com, to be honest I was not sure he was still alive.
I saw him in Denver last summer. Got to shake his hand and let him know I enjoyed his work. Highlight of that day, it was.
I didn’t think he was still alive, either.
I am sad to say, I’ve never heard of him. I’ll be waiting at curbside on Saturday when the city comes around with the big chipper to collect christmas trees. :-(
He had a large short story retrospective out from Tor a year or so ago, PLATINUM POHL. The book’s an absolute treasure, as is Fred himself.
Come to a Chicago-area convention, John, and you’ll get to see him lots (though probably a bit less frequently these days than in years past)–anyway, he’s always a gracious and entertaining con-participant. So is his wife, Elizabeth Anne Hull, who apparently guest-blogs occasionally . . .
To those who have never heard of Fred Pohl: Boy are you in for a treat doing the catch up reading. One of great people in the genre. Be sure to track down his memoir “The Way The Future Was”, it’ll tell you a lot about the origins of modern SF. Used copies – both pb & hardcover – are easy & cheap to find online.
And he’s a nice guy.
It’s an interesting blog. It also illustrates my long-held belief that people of that generation are just wayyy tougher than we are. The man’s right hand stopped working overnight and he carries on anyway, “meaning to ask my doctor what the hell was going on this time at the next chance I got.”
If that had been me, I’d have run back into the house, my face covered in tears and snot, blubbering and screaming at my wife to call an ambulance, charge the defibrillator, and begging her to agree to be an organ donor if I needed one.
Somehow since I learned of it from da webz I figured you’d already heard about it.
I’ve been out of circulation for more than a week, so actually I missed it.
Yeah, I just saw the blog mentioned on LocusOnline yesterday. Pohl came and spoke to the Writers of the Future Workshop the week after WorldCon in Denver. He was telling some of the same stories which are in the current crop of blog entries — all dated January 2009, so the blog is new and if you check it out now you won’t have missed any. Anyway, with both Pohl and Charles N. Brown, editor of Locus, riding around in these electric scoots, I had wondered aloud if they were going to race. Rumor had it that like any bad idea with a gathering of SF types they did, but I missed it. (grin)
Craig (#8) — age toughens us, I think. I’m a lot less wimpy at 60 than I was at 40, and at 20 I was a blinkin’ wuss, looking back. If I’m still as functional at his age as he is, I suspect I’ll be fearless.
John – thanks for the heads up! Fred Pohl has long been a favorite of mine. I am so happy to see he is still writing, as well! I’ll have to find a copy of “The Way the Future Was”…
Thanks for the tip (and yes, as a long-time SF reader, I most certainly know who Frederik Pohl is).
On the other hand: I just added Pohl’s blog to my Bloglines list…and it showed “0 subscribers.” Let’s hope that changes rapidly.
SFWA grand master Fred Pohl very definitely is near the heart of Hard SF, being the first non-scientist ever made a Fellow of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) purely for his Science Fiction and related essays.
It has been infinitely cool to have Done Panels with him at cons.
Can his wife be elected to Congress now, as America has shifted since last she ran?
Thanks for mentioning this John! I haven’t read any Pohl recently, now I’ll have to track down Gateway, which I remember really liking, and try to find his memoir and the book of shorts stories that Bill Schafer mentioned.
Thanks for the pointer, John.
“You go there now. That’s an order.”
Sir! Yes, sir!
Walt@14 — I don’t know what Bloglines is, so I’m not and won’t be a subscriber, but I bookmarked Fred’s blog yesterday. I expect there are others like me.
I love the fact that when I got there the top post was a guest post from his wife taking him behind the proverbial woodshed.
Age toughens us, indeed.
Thank you so much!
So. Very. Cool.
Oh no! You’ve ruined Frederik Pohl’s blog! I just got a bandwidth exceeded error when I tried to visit…
Let’s hope those royalties keeping coming in :-)
whoops, we crashed the site…..
Site has exceeded bandwidth limit :(
“Bandwidth Limit Exceeded
The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.”
“Holy Crap, Frederik Pohl -HAD- a Blog”
Fixed that for you. :)
He’s a pretty regular attendee of the Campbell conference in Lawrence, KS, in the summer. And sometimes comes early to teach at the CSSF writing workshop (run by James Gunn, another grand master). The Campbell conference is small enough that there are good opportunities to talk to people. Last year Mr. Pohl did a reading from The Last Theorem and talked about what it was like working with Arthur C Clarke.
What did Fred ever do to you?
you can still view the blog (minus the images), if you go to google reader, hit “Add a subscription” in the top left, and enter “http://www.thewaythefutureblogs.com/”.
You may have killed FP’s blog. Now what are your faithful minions supposed to do? Is patience part of our hive mind?
Actually this is terrifying – Scalzi now has the ability to slashdot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot#Slashdotting) people’s sites from his own website.
Now that’s power!
May he use it only for good……..
We appear to have crashed it ;>. I’ll have to check it out tonight.
Fred is a Lovely, lovely man – It was my pleasure to be part of team that hosted him as GOH at a very small con some years ago and we all got to chat with him quite a bit.
Damn – a blog at what 89? Now *that’s* living the SF you wrote ;>.
It’s the difference between an 89-year-old SF writer and say a 90-year-old retired chemist, my father, who refuses to deal with computers. It’s the vision thing. (and I don’t mean eyeglasses — grin)
Oh no, we killed it!
Oh, great. Now I feel guilty.
Hmm, I think I know what you’ve got to do now…
Write up an email, starting by imagining yourself 8 years old again, knocking on his door, nervously dragging your baseball bat behind you and staring off at the ground…
“Mr. Pohl? I kinda broke your blog…”
I’ve got a first edition of The Way the Future Was; I think I bought it when it first came out. Sits on my shelf right next to Damon Knight’s The Futurians — and if you don’t know who Knight was, that wood chipper is still running.
I saw his blog, and his article about collaborating with Arthur Clarke, before he got 509’ed. Pretty cool….
But Making Light pointed to him before Whatever did, so it’s not all John’s fault!
Frederik should put up a tip jar to help defray the expenses.
* * *
Anyone who thinks that stories about the Singularity and posthumans are new and kewl should read Pohl’s “Day Million,” which was published in 1967 or so. Virtual sex, transgendered otter woman, rants about asymptotic progress . . . s’wonderful.
The seat Pohl’s wife ran for is now held by a Democrat.
Didn’t we have a “John should be ashamed” post last year?
Was this on the list?
Man Plus – that’s a great Pohl book worth the read.,
“And listen, this isn’t a plea for sympathy. Hey, I’m 89 years old. That means that I am far luckier than most of the people I’ve known in being still able to write at all — or, for that matter, to still be breathing. It’s just to say that if you ever happen to think you should properly have had a longer letter from me, or indeed any letter at all, it isn’t that I don’t treasure you, it’s just that my finger hurts.”
– Frederik Pohl, The Way the Future Blogs
GOLD, every word. I am totally rereading the Platinum Pohl anthology right now. Can I just say that I love his work?
Um, reference is :
The blog seems to be back up again, incidentally.
Wow! Bookmarked as per order.
If you can’t wait to read Pohl’s sf, the classic “Day of the Boomer Dukes” is free online at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/22559
M.A. @ 12
That which opposes us and does not kill us makes us older.
Went per instructions. Have some of his books, so no wood chipper for me. Off hand I can’t think of a story by him that I didn’t like.
As for age toughening us, is it just a matter of experience? Because I’ve already dealt with a ton of crap and it takes a lot more to max me out than it did when I was younger. Not just on the pain threshold but in general. You know,the what ever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger deal.
SpeakerToManagers line is a double chuckle. Guess I ain’t dead yet. 8D
I feel like I’ve just necked a Martini in one. Blimey.
Oh, look. I’ve driven ctrl and d straight through the keyboard. And the desk.
I can’t think of many collaborations, The Last Theorem, where the combined age of the authors is around 180 years.
I only had to look about half metre to left to see the Gateway novels on the shelf. Saved from the chipper this time.
Holy shit! I’m a complete junkie for “Gateway”… And already with the amazing posts, like “Sir Arthur and I”…
Ugh, broken English from a college professor as the top post.
Fred did a lot of work with the World Future Society as well – it was my privilege to manage a conference at my college (’79?) that featured him as guest speaker.
Fred is one of the best and, while he has produced some wonderful, award-winning books and stories over the years, his greatest impact, IMO, has been as an editor. His discovery and support of many new writers has enriched the field tremendously.
Also now departed from the thought-he-must-be-dead group. I am vastened by the knowledge that he ain’t.
This is fab news. Gateway remains one of my favourite novels, dark as it is. I urge anyone who hasn’t read it to go and buy it. That said it was one of the earlier SF Masterworks reprints, which at least in the UK are pretty widely stocked so you really shoudl have seen it by now.
Any chance of a guest-post over here by the awesome Grandmaster Pohl? That would be like a second chistmas!
Steven Fisher @ 51: Ugh, broken English from a college professor as the top post.
Not that this college instructor noticed. As far as I can tell, Hull’s post written in perfectly acceptable colloquial English, a conversational style quite appropriate for a blog post. IMO, of course.
I’m embarrassed to say that, twenty plus years ago, after finishing one of his books, I noticed from the bio that he lived in a nearby Chicago suburb and, without thinking how selfish it was of me, found his phone number in directory assistance and called him. I don’t think I ever thought one of the “Deans of Science Fiction” actually would pick up the phone. When he did, I stammered out something (probably incoherent) about how much I enjoyed the book and he was incredibly gracious. He spoke with me for a couple minutes about the book, I apologized for bothering him and, saying that he had to go work on his next story, he said goodbye. A terrific gentleman and one of the greatest authors of our time.
So, of course, I leave a word out of my post on English sentence structure. It figures. “Hull’s post is written,” of course. Gah. That will teach me to post in a hurry . . .
I read Gateway last year (as part of Gollancz’s inconceivably sexy ten sci-fi novels you must read before you die [of cover-lust related myocardial infarction]) but haven’t continued the series. I wasn’t sure where it could go from that masterpiece, but I guess I could be proved wrong… or should I just move onto some of his other work?
So, is _The Last Theorem_ any good? I’m thinking the most recently written Pohl stuff I’ve read was probably something Gateway (or maybe _Chernobyl_, which was fine but not really SF anymore…)
Thanks, John. Nice to know the last survivor of the golden age is still writing.
Yes, that blog is interesting.
Of course, it would have been a lot more astonishing if his old writing partner C.M. Kornbluth had a blog but still…
I was geeked about his blog appearing a week back, and liked him better before he deleted every comment that (very politely and factually) disagreed with him on a political issue, and kept the comments that agreed with him. I appreciate and enjoy the body of work he’s created, but he’s personally lost some credibility with me over that.
I was briefly tempted to zing him with a “Hey, John Scalzi doesn’t delete polite comments he disagrees with, he’ll just argue you into the next week” but I figured that wasn’t the point, and it would get deleted as well. His house, his rules, but I won’t be back.
I can understand at this point in his life not wanting to get into comment thread political arguments. That said, it’s always better to note one is going to do something like that up front. Personally, I’m there for him, not his comment threads, so I hadn’t noticed it.
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