Pohl, Frederik

Pohl, Frederik

▪ American author
born Nov. 26, 1919, New York, N.Y., U.S.

      American science-fiction writer whose best work uses the genre as a mode of social criticism and as an exploration of the long-range consequences of technology in an ailing society.

      Pohl was a high-school dropout who began his professional career in science fiction by editing some of the classic stories of the genre and then collaborating with many of its best representatives. He edited two science-fiction magazines, Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories. In the late 1930s Pohl and others interested in science fiction formed a group known as the Futurians, which dedicated itself to the creation and promotion of constructive and forward-looking (“futurian”) science fiction. Other members included Isaac Asimov (Asimov, Isaac) and C.M. Kornbluth (Kornbluth, C.M.). During World War II Pohl served in the U.S. Army Air Forces and then worked briefly in an advertising agency before returning to writing and editing.

      Though many of his works are known for their humour, Pohl often addressed serious issues. His most famous work, The Space Merchants (1953), was written in collaboration with Kornbluth. It tells the story of Mitchell Courtenay, a “copysmith star class” for a powerful advertising agency who is made head of a project to colonize Venus in order to create consumers in space. This chilling portrait of a world dominated by the economic perspective of advertising executives made Pohl's reputation. Pohl wrote several other books with Kornbluth; some of their work can be found in Our Best: The Best of Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth (1987). Pohl's other novels include The Age of the Pussyfoot (1969), Man Plus (1976), Gateway (1977), and Chernobyl (1987). The trilogy composed of The Other End of Time (1996), The Siege of Eternity (1997), and The Far Shore of Time (1999) imagines the future Earth at the centre of a galactic war. Pohl's numerous short-story collections include The Best of Frederik Pohl (1975), Pohlstars (1984), and The Gateway Trip: Tales and Vignettes of the Heechee (1990). He published a memoir, The Way the Future Was, in 1978 and also wrote an environmental handbook with Asimov, Our Angry Earth (1991).

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Universalium. 2010.

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