Frederik Pohl

Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (born November 26, 1919) is a American science fiction writer, editor and fan, with a career spanning over sixty years. From about 1959 until 1969, Pohl edited Galaxy magazine and its sister magazine if, winning the Hugo for if three years in a row. His writing also won him three Hugos and multiple Nebula Awards. He became a Nebula Grand Master in 1993.

Biography and writing career

Pohl's family moved a number of times in his early years. His father held a number of jobs, and the Pohls lived in such wide-flung locations as Texas, California, New Mexico, and the Panama Canal Zone. The family settled in Brooklyn when Pohl was around seven. He attended the prestigious Brooklyn Tech high school, but due to the Great Depression, Pohl dropped out of school at the age of fourteen to work. While still a teenager he began a lifelong friendship with fellow writer Isaac Asimov, also a member of the New York-based Futurians fan group.

In 1936, Pohl joined the Young Communist League, an organization in favor of trade unions and against racial prejudice and Hitler and Mussolini. He became President of the local Flatbush III Branch of the YCL in Brooklyn. Pohl says that after Stalin-Hitler pact in 1939 the party line changed and he could no longer support it, at which point he left voluntarily.

From 1939 to 1943, he was the editor of two pulp magazines - Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories. In his own autobiography, Pohl says that he stopped editing the two magazines at roughly the time of German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Pohl has been married several times. His first wife, Leslie Perri, was another Futurian; they were married in August 1940 but divorced during World War II. He then married Dorothy LesTina in Paris in August, 1945 while both were serving in Europe. In 1948 he married Judith Merril, an important figure in the world of science fiction, with whom he has one daughter, Ann. Merril and Pohl divorced in 1953. From 1953–1982 he was married to Carol Metcal Ulf. He is currently married to science fiction editor and academic Elizabeth Anne Hull, PhD, whom he married in 1984.

Emily Pohl-Weary is Pohl's granddaughter.

During the war Pohl served in the US Army (April 1943-November 1945), rising to Sergeant as an air corp weathermen. After training in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Colorado, he primarily was stationed in Italy.

Pohl started his career as Literary Agent in 1937, but it was a sideline for him until after WWII, when he began doing it full time. He ended up "representing more than half the successful writers in science fiction"--for a short time, he was the only agent Isaac Asimov ever had--though, in the end it was a failure for him as his agenting business went bankrupt in the early 1950s.

He collaborated with friend and fellow Futurian Cyril M. Kornbluth, co-authoring a number of short stories and several novels, including a dystopian satire of a world ruled by the advertising agencies, The Space Merchants (a belated sequel, The Merchants' War [1984] was written by Pohl alone, after Kornbluth's death). This should not to be confused with Pohl's The Merchants of Venus, an unconnected 1972 novella which includes biting satire on runaway free market capitalism and first introduced the Heechee.

A number of his short stories were notable for a satirical look at consumerism and advertising in the 1950s and 1960s: "The Wizard of Pung's Corners", where flashy, over-complex military hardware proved useless against farmers with shotguns, and "The Tunnel Under the World", where an entire community is held captive by advertising researchers.

From the late 1950s until 1969, he served as editor of Galaxy and if magazines, taking over at some point from the ailing H. L. Gold. Under his leadership, if won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine for 1966, 1967 and 1968. Judy-Lynn del Rey was his assistant editor at Galaxy and if.

In the mid-1970s, Pohl acquired and edited novels for Bantam Books, published as "Frederik Pohl Selections"; the most notable were Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren and Joanna Russ's The Female Man. Also in the 1970s, Pohl reemerged as a novel writer in his own right, with books such as Man Plus and the Heechee series. He won back-to-back Nebula awards with Man Plus in 1976 and Gateway, the first Heechee novel, in 1977. Gateway also won the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Two of his stories have also earned him Hugo awards: "The Meeting" (with Kornbluth) tied in 1973 and "Fermi and Frost" won in 1986. Another notable late novel is Jem (1980), winner of the National Book Award. Pohl continues to write and had a new story, "Generations", published in September 2005. A novel begun by Arthur C. Clarke called "The Last Theorem" was finished by Pohl and published on August 5, 2008.

His works include not only science fiction but also articles for Playboy and Family Circle. For a time, he was the official authority for the Encyclopædia Britannica on the subject of Emperor Tiberius.

He was a frequent guest on Long John Nebel's radio show, from the 1950s to the early 1970s.

He was the eighth President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, taking office in 1974.

Pohl has been a resident of Red Bank, New Jersey, and currently resides in Palatine, Illinois.

Pohl has been announced as the recipient of the second Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the University of California, Riverside.



Undersea Trilogy (with Jack Williamson)

  1. Undersea Quest (1954)
  2. Undersea Fleet (1956)
  3. Undersea City (1958)


Eschaton trilogy

  1. The Other End of Time (1996)
  2. The Siege of Eternity (1997)
  3. The Far Shore of Time (1999)


Saga of Cuckoo (with Jack Williamson)

  1. Farthest Star (1975)
  2. Wall Around A Star (1983)

Starchild Trilogy (with Jack Williamson)

  1. The Reefs of Space (1964)
  2. Starchild (1965)
  3. Rogue Star (1969)

Space Merchants

  1. The Space Merchants (1953) (with Cyril M. Kornbluth)
  2. The Merchants' War (1984) (published together with The Space Merchants under the title VENUS, INC.)

Other novels (not part of a series)



  • The Way the Future Was (1978)


  • Tiberius (1960) (writing as Ernst Mason)
  • Practical Politics 1972 (1971)
  • Our Angry Earth (1991) (with Isaac Asimov)
  • Chasing Science: Science as Spectator Sport (2000)


External links

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