Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Never to be Forgotten:
Frederik Pohl 1919-2013
Frederik Pohl died yesterday at the age of 93. He was, among other things, a writer and editor. Besides his decades of work in science fiction, much of his early stuff under pen names, the Encyclopedia Brittanica employed him as an "official expert" on the Emperor Tiberius. He also wrote ad copy and wrote for Popular Science. He worked for a while as an agent, his best known client being Isaac Asimov. During World War II, he served in a bomber squadron in Italy, the 456th. (Another famous author, Joseph Heller, had similar service but in a different unit, the 488th.)
He won a Nebula for Man Plus, a Nebula and a Hugo for Gateway. He wrote many books in collaboration with other writers, including Lester Del Rey and Jack Williamson while all parties were alive and well, and he finished Arthur C. Clarke's The Last Theorem after Clarke died.
He didn't have much luck writing for films or TV. Tunnel Under the World was turned into an obscure Italian film. He wrote one episode of the 1952 sci-fi show Tales of Tomorrow and his stories were turned into episodes of the 1960s show Out of the Unknown and the somewhat better known though little loved 1980s series Tales from the Darkside.
A lot of his work attacks consumerism, including The Space Merchants, a dystopian satire about a planet ruled by ad agencies. No wonder so few of his stories were filmed.
Two different quotes are called Pohl's Law. The first is "Nobody is ever ready for anything." The second is "Nothing is so good that somebody, somewhere will not hate it."
As a mathematician, I am always looking for a counter-example for any general statement. I believe I can refute the first version of Pohl's Law. The second version, on the other hand, is pretty much golden.
Best wishes to the family and friends of Frederik Pohl, from a fan. May he never be forgotten.