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 has written multiple books on toys and toy history, 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