Philosofiction

Steve Bein, writer & philosopher

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RIP Frederik Pohl (1919-2013)

We lost another luminary of the Golden Age of science fiction. Frederik Pohl died today, and up until yesterday he was still writing.

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For those who don’t know the name, Pohl was a contemporary of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke -- you know, the people who
made science fiction. Not to take anything away from guys like Jules Verne or H.G. Wells; they’re the giants whose shoulders we stand on. But it was the Golden Age writers who brought us flyer saucers and intelligent robots and guns that go pew pew pew!

I had the good fortune to be on a panel with Pohl -- my first panel as a sci fi/fantasy writer, in fact, and it was a humbling experience to say the least. I was sitting next to Nnedi Okorafor, who like me had recently won the Writers of the Future contest, and unlike me already had a novel to show for it. Next to her sat Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, who at that point had published something like 100 novels between the two of them. And then, at the far end of the table, sat The Man Himself.

I worked up the courage to talk to him, but I was so nervous that now I can’t remember what we talked about. At the time I was thinking, “Why did they put
me on this panel? What am I doing here?” Now I know: I was there so that ten years later I could look back and say to myself, “Dude, you were in the same room as Frederik Pohl.”