Frederik Pohl was one of the generation of young writers who moved effortlessly to writing fanzines to writing for the pulp magazines. His most important work falls into two main segments. In the 1950s, he and his friend C M Kornbluth wrote four novels, and a number of short stories, which wittily exaggerated and satirized trends in contemporary American society; the suprisingly prophetic Gladiator-at-Law is eloquent about the degradation of housing projects into slums, the spread of teen and pre-teen gangs and violence in popular entertainment, while The Space Merchants is inventive in its use of conservationists as the despised political opposition to a society whose roots lie in consumerism and high-pressure advertising. Most of Pohl's short stories further explore this vein of satire. His most important later novels are Man Plus, in which a cyborged human explores a realistic Mars, Jem in which human colonists interact destructively with each other and three native species of alien, and Gateway, and its sequels, in which humanity explores the galaxy with the only partly understood abandoned technology of aliens who have gone off somewhere to hide. At his best, Frederik Pohl is one of the wittiest and most humane authors in the field.
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Books:Gateway, October 2004
The Space Merchants, August 1970