Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kornbluth review

Very nice review for Mark from Analog:

C. M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of
a Science Fiction Visionary
Mark Rich

McFarland (,
451 pages, $39.95 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-7864-4393-2
Genre: Nonfiction

Cyril (C. M.) Kornbluth was one of the pivotal figures of American science fiction. He was there at the beginning, those late-1930s days that marked the launch of Amazing Stories, the foundation of the Futurians, and the start of so many careers: Isaac Asimov, David A. Kyle, Sam Moskowitz, Frederik Pohl, Richard Wilson, Donald A. Wollheim. Kornbluth would easily take his place among those hallowed names. Two of his solo stories, “The Little Black Bag” (Astounding, 1950) and “The Marching Morons” (1951), are classics and as popular today as when they were written. His collaborations with Frederik Pohl, most notably The Space Merchants (1952) and Gladiator-At-Law (1954), are equally well regarded, as is his solo novel The Syndic (1953).

When Kornbluth died in March 1958, at the age of 35, his loss was felt throughout the science fiction community. If he had lived, he would undoubtedly have been hailed as one of the superstars of the field.

Mark Rich has written a very detailed yet highly readable biography of this exceptional writer, which is itself a mini-history of the early decades of science fiction. Along the way, he includes commentary on just about every short story, novelette, and novel that Kornbluth produced, alone or in collaboration, under a variety of pseudonyms. A scholarly text (with the requisite 40 pages of notes) that reads like a novel, Rich’s book is nothing short of a delight.

If you remember anything of that time, this will be a nostalgic journey for you; those of us who had the misfortune to be born after Kornbluth died can only marvel at this now-gone world and the geniuses who inhabited it. The book is a bit pricey, but no fan of the history of science fiction (you know who you are) can afford to be without it.

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