Sad news today:

Science fiction Grand Master Frederik Pohl has died, aged 93.

Pohl was one of last survivors of Science Fiction’s “golden age” of the late 1930s and zearly 1940s, a time when he contributed to and edited pulp fiction magazines. He was also an important figure in the emergence of fandom, founding the “Futurians”.

A contemporary of Isaac Asimov, Jack Vance, James Blish and other Sci Fi royalty, Pohl’s initial impact as a novelist came in collaboration with Cyril Kornbluth. The pair penned The Space Merchants, a work considered a classic for its satire depicting a future society run in part by advertising agencies and eerily prescient today in the age of search engine optimisation.

When i09 asked a bunch of folks in 2008 to recommend a science fiction novel that you should read before stepping into the voting booth, my choice was The Merchants’ War, Pohl’s mid-80s sequel to The Space Merchants. It doesn’t quite describe the way politicians are marketed today, but it’s close enough to be scary.

Pohl’s novels in the 90s and beyond were mostly fairly mediocre, but when he was good he was one of the best. I’m not sure any science fiction writer has ever written three consecutive novels as good as Man Plus, Gateway, and Jem. He’ll be missed.


If you buy a book using a Bookshop link on this page, a small share of the proceeds supports our journalism.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate