C.M. Kornbluth

The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary


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About the Book

Cyril Kornbluth is a legendary figure in science fiction. As a teenager in the years before World War II, he wrote prolifically and brilliantly under multiple pennames. After military service he developed a voice distinctive for its commanding intelligence, passion, and wit, displaying it in a string of novels and short stories including his award-winning “The Little Black Bag.” His sudden death in 1958, at the early age of 35, marked the end of an era—it was a time when his chosen literary field was contemplating its potential demise. This comprehensive biography tells the story of this remarkable writer and his works for the first time.

About the Author(s)

Mark Rich is the author of two short story collections, Across the Sky and Edge of Our Lives, and several books on toys and toy manufacturing, along with numerous articles on science fiction literature. He lives in Cashton, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Mark Rich
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 451
Bibliographic Info: 25 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4393-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5711-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Preface      1

Introduction: Cyril Kornbluth, 1923–1958      3

Part I. Life and Works

1. Futurians      9

2. In the North of Manhattan      15

3. George Washington Hill      21

4. An Irreverent Puck      29

5. The Mutant Title and the Fifth Convention      39

6. The Pirate and the Garbageman      53

7. An Interview with S.D. Gottesman      63

8. Cecil Corwin and the Fiction Avalanche      75

9. The Ineluctable Modality      89

10. The Ogre and the Literary Cabal      99

11. Before the Bodies Were Buried      111

12. The Detective Ace and the Flying Saucer      126

13. The Little Black Story      146

14. The New Face of Science Fiction      159

15. The Little Mother of Science Fiction      166

16. Vogting Old Van      173

17. Pack the Venus Ship with Connies      189

18. Launch of an Angry Novelist      201

19. The Miracle-Year of 1953      219

20. The Easy (Equals Bad) Way      233

21. The Sparrow in the Badminton Game      246

22. The Satellite of Mass Control      263

23. Tioga House      270

24. Hypertensive Year      278

25. The Death of Science Fiction      288

26. The Magical Number and the Magic Crutch      304

27. Two Celestial Lane      315

28. The End of the Modern      330

29. In the Age of the Masses      347

Part II. The Split Personality in the Fiction

30. Everybody Knows Joe      357

31. The Bureau Chief, the Hermaphrodite, and the Marching Morons      365

32. The Fugue State and the Lonely Man      369

33. The Silly Season and Maggie’s Wrong Pressing      373

34. Kornbluth, Klass, and the Moral Stance      379

Chapter Notes      383

Bibliography      423

Index      427

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist, Locus Award—Locus Magazine
“a highly recommendable book that is an excellent read”—Operaphile; “This book is an important contribution to our understanding of mid-twentieth-century sf…Rich has done an admirable job researching the man’s life and times”—Science Fiction Studies; “outstanding…thoughtfully written, well-researched and fully annotated…indispensable”—Scientifiction; “a more thorough examination of Kornbluth is probably not possible”—Critical Mass.