Thursday, April 12, 2007

Killed by Science Fiction

I'm still reading Malzberg's Breakfast in the Ruins, and will keep sharing interesting bits until you all are sick of it. Here's the opening of a 1980 essay called "Mark Clifton: 1906-1963"

Kuttner died of a heart attack in his sleep, Kornbluth died of either a massive cerebral hemorrhage or a heart attack (depending upon whose version you accept), Clifton has has a bad heart for a long time. It drove him out of industry and undid him at a relative young age. But I think that the death certificated of all three should have listed science fiction under cause of death. H. Beam Piper, our only suicide, blew out his brains with a shotgun in the fall of 1964, but it did not appear to be the field itself that had done it to him: the sudden death of his agent, monies tied up, depression, a big gun collection. Kuttner, Kornbluth, and Clifton took it straight.

Cause of death: science fiction. You bet, Mark.

Anyone else killed by science fiction since then?

Meanwhile, in the category of "got the hell out of Dodge, denied ever living there, and died old," is Kurt Vonnegut, who died last night, after a fall, at the age of 84. He was a massive international bestseller and the voice of a generation, but never a SFWA Grand Master. I guess we showed him...


Mr.SFTV said...

Did he belong to SFWA?

Andrew Wheeler said...

mr.sftv: I'm pretty sure Vonnegut never joined SFWA...but that's not a requirement for a Grand Mastership. (One example: Ellison wasn't a member before he was named GM, having resigned some time before.)

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