Frederik Pohl


Frederik Pohl had been about everything that it is possible to be in the field of science fiction, from consecrated fan and struggling poet to critic, literary agent, teacher, book and magazine editor and, above all, writer.

Called by Kingsley Amis (in Amis's critical study of science fiction, New Maps of Hell) "the most consistently able writer science fiction, in its modern form, has yet produced," Frederik Pohl was clearly in the very first rank of writers in the field. He won most of the awards the science-fiction field has to offer, including the Edward E. Smith and Donald A. Wollheim memorial awards, the International John W. Campbell award (twice), the French Prix Apollo, the Yugoslavian Vizija, the Nebula (three times, including the "Grand Master" Nebula for lifetime contributions to the field) and the Hugo (six times; he was the only person ever to have won the Hugo both as writer and as editor), as well as such awards from sources outside the science-fiction community as the American Book Award, the annual award of the Popular Culture Association, and the United Nations Society of Writers Award. Other honors include election as a Fellow to both the British Interplanetary Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Apart from the field of science fiction, he was a noted lecturer and teacher in the area of future studies, and was the author of, among other non-fiction works, Practical Politics, a how-to-do-it manual of the American political process; Our Angry Earth, on the world's environmental problems, written in collaboration with the late Isaac Asimov, which Sir Arthur C. Clarke called "perhaps the most important book either of its authors has produced"; and, most recently, Chasing Science, on the uses of science as a spectator sport. He was also the Encyclopedia Britannica's authority on the First Century A.D. Roman emperor, Tiberius.

Many of Frederik Pohl's works have been adapted for radio, television, or film, beginning with the two-part Columbia Workshop of the Air version of the classic The Space Merchants in 1953. In Europe, a number of his stories have been televised by the BBC and his famous novella, "The Midas Plague," became a three-hour special on German television. The 1981 NBC two-hour television film, The Clonemaster, was based on an original concept of his; his award-winning novel, Gateway, has been dramatized for live theatrical production; and his novelette, "The Tunnel under the World," became a feature film in Italy. (Gateway was also made into a computer game under the title of "Frederik Pohl's Gateway" by Legend Entertainment; a second game, "Gateway II: The Home World," was released a year later.)

Among Pohl's most recent novels are The World at the End of Time, Outnumbering the Dead, Stopping at Slowyear, The Voices of Heaven, O Pioneer, and The Siege of Eternity.

He traveled widely, sometimes to lecture on behalf of the United States State Department (in places as widely separated as Singapore, New Zealand and most of the countries of both Eastern and Western Europe) or to attend international conferences on science or science fiction in places like the Republic of South Korea, Canada, the People's Republic of China, Australia, Brazil, the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, and most of Western Europe. He served as president of both World SF and the Science Fiction Writers of America and as Midwest Area Representative to the Authors Guild, having served for nine years as a member of the Guild Council before moving to the midwest. For many years he made his home in Palatine, Illinois, with his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Anne Hull, who is a past president of the Science Fiction Research Association and a noted scholar in the field.

Frederik Pohl died September 2, 2013, in Palatine, IL.

(For further information: Who's Who in America, or Pohl's autobiography, The Way the Future Was, Ballantine Books, 1979.)

Selected Works

Collaborative Fiction
THE LAST THEOREM grew from 100 pages of notes Arthur C. Clarke gave to Frederik Pohl. [...] With the help of Elizabeth Anne Hull, Pohl completed a story of mathematics, political intrigue, and a threat to the survival of Earth.
Latest novel in the Heechee series (New York: Tor, 2004).
"Pohl at the top of his form"
--Poul Anderson

"Another mind-boggling saga."
--David Brin
A brilliant handling of the SF themes of first contact, planetary disaster, and future politics.

The making of a cyborg, with added twists in the human/machine relationship.