Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sins of omission

Somehow in my voracious hoovering up of all things Golden Age SFian (as we all know, Bob, the Golden Age is from 12 to 13), I entirely missed Frederik Pohl's work. Sure, he may've snuck in as a short story here or there, since our basement library, where my mother's meticulously organized science fiction shelf—alphabetical by author for standalone novels, year of publication for anthologies and Amazing Stories back numbers—had its share of bricklike Year's Bests. But he never really stuck out (and my habit of ignoring bylines didn't help), so I glided past him with little more than name recognition.

A few years ago, though, Pohl spoke at the National Book Festival, mostly humoring questions about what Robert Heinlein was like and seeing the tent fill up with Neil Gaiman fans hunting for advance seats. He was thoroughly gentlemanly and, though obviously getting on in years, sharp and gracious, not to mention funny as hell. I promptly started haunting the used bookstores, huffing dustmites and getting gleefully confused by his Heechee books; of course if we encountered alien technology, we would spend the first thirty years trying to figure out which bits of it were valuable and which were junk food wrappers. I didn't want to slap the narrator halfway across the room, he used Ya as an initial for the character's Russian wife (too many people would've used Y), and the people in his stories seemed three-dimensional even after they'd crossed the event horizon in black holes. I've been kicking myself about the missed chances ever since.

And now, come to find out, he's got a blog. God bless the future; it's not everything we hoped for, but in some ways it is much much more.

No comments: