C.M. Kornbluth – The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary

 Many of you may not remember Cyril Kornbluth, an outstanding science fiction writer who sadly died in the late ’50s, but his impact on Science Fiction endures until today. With the publication of a new biography by Mark Rich, I think it is time for everyone to reacquaint themselves with the life of a great writer from SF’s golden age.

Rich has spent years gathering data, and the biography covers everything from Kornbluth’s early life and member of the Futurians, all the way through to his tragic death in 1958 from a heart attack. Rich’s attention to the books detail is impressive. Not only do we get a full index, but also more than 40 pages of chapter notes.

The biography talks about many of Kornbluth’s literary accomplishments. My favorite novel by Kornbluth is THE SPACE MERCHANTS, written in collaboration with Frederik Pohl. However Kornbluth’s life work covered an impressive array of  techno, economic, and sociological issues, which even until today cause us to pause and question. As Rich puts it:

“…he expressed his commonality, moreover, by responding to the great events of the day: the concentration camp, the atomic bomb, the Red Scare, McCarthyism, the erasing of gender lines, the culpability of the intelligentsia, the tragedy of the Organization Man, and the brutalizing, numbing and dumbing-down effects of mass culture.”

I don’t know how you feel, but I don’t believe all the above issues have yet been resolved. More reason in my opinion to understand Kornbluth’s work, and the man himself.

So, if you love SF from the golden age, this biography is a must read. I highly recommend it.

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3 responses to “C.M. Kornbluth – The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary

  1. Which of his do you recommend other than The Space Merchants? (I have to admit, I couldn’t tolerate The Space Merchants — some of his short story collections are supposed to be top notch).

  2. I used to buy all his books in the Fifties, as soon as they came out. He really was in tune with those times. I’d forgotten about Kornbluth. Thanks for the reminder.

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