Sunday, May 26, 2013

33. Four Science Fiction Masters by D. Richard Martin

Writer:  D. Richard Martin
First Publication:  2011

"This book includes lost interviews with four masters of post-war American science fiction—Frank Herbert, Frederik Pohl, Clifford D. Simak, and Gordon Dickson. This compact volume catches them all in their primes, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Their trenchant, prescient observations still resonate three decades later."

I enjoy reading non-fiction books about science fiction.  For 14 years, beginning in 1980, D. Richard Martin was the science fiction and fantasy book reviewer for the Minneapolis Star/Tribune.  Over the course of that time, he was able to interview some of the big authors of that time.  This collection takes out of print interviews he did with four of the authors and puts them into an ebook.  The reader will quickly see that Martin is a very professional interviewer.  His questions are short but spark the authors to give answers that explain the background of their careers.

Here is a sampling of items that caught my interest:

Frank Herbert

The original Dune trilogy (Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune) was conceived as a 1,200 page novel.  Some parts of the second and third books were written while Herbert was writing the first book.

"The theory was that heroes are bad for society, and super-heroes are disastrous."  Herbert's theory is demonstrated in this series.  He shows through Paul's actions what would happen if a super-hero rose to power.

Frederik Pohl

Pohl, known as one of the best magazine editors of his time, turned down the position of fiction editor at Omni magazine.  Omni was a glossy science fiction magazine that was highly considered at the time.

Clifford D. Simak

Simak has a different opinion from many other authors.  He thought that when a society advances enough to build a starship to visit Earth, they would come in peace.  They would not come with a plan to invade the Earth.  

Gordon R. Dickson

Dickson charged a high price for speaking engagements.  His idea was that it took too much time from his writing.  The other factor was some problems he had with asthma.  He had to be careful what the place was like when he would teach at a workshop or attend a convention.

There were just the tip of the iceberg.  Martin has put together an excellent short collection of interviews.  If you want to learn about the authors listed above, it is an inexpensive way of learning about them.


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