Wednesday, March 11, 1970

Author - Kornbluth, Cyril M.

Birth: July 2, 1923.

Death: March 21, 1958.

Comments: Cyril M. Kornbluth is one of the great tragic losses of science fiction. Kornbluth was a brilliant and promising author, having had his first story published when he was only fifteen. After a detour to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II and attend the University of Chicago, Kornbluth turned to writing full time, producing several sharply written and engaging stories. Just as his career was getting a full head of steam, Kornbluth suffered a heart attack while running to catch a train and died as the age of thirty-four. Kornbluth was always in poor health, probably due to his regular diet of coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, and pastrami, although some blame is probably due to his stint in the infantry during World War II. No matter the cause, Kornbluth's death cut short what can only be described as a strong writing career and probably deprived us of numerous great works of science fiction.

Despite using the letter "M" as his middle initial, Kornbluth had no middle name, which wasn't all that uncommon at the time. I would guess that he chose the "M" when he enlisted in the Army, which required those who signed up to fill out a form that included a space for their middle initial (my grandfather chose "A" as his middle initial, so that he would be first in any list of "Paul Wrights"). Kornbluth, like many prolific short fiction writers of his era, wrote under a variety of pen names so as to be able to appear in several publications on a regular basis. The pseudonyms Kornbluth used were Cecil Corwin, S.D. Gottesman, Edward J. Bellin, Kenneth Falconer, Walter C. Davies, Simon Eisner, Jordan Park, Arthur Cooke, Paul Dennis Lavond, and Scott Mariner.

Kornbluth was close friends with Frederik Pohl and Judith Merril with whom he frequently collaborated. A story cowritten by Kornbluth and Pohl won a Hugo award in 1973, fifteen years after Kornbluth's death. One quirky fact about Kornbluth is that he attempted to self-educate himself by reading an encyclopedia from A to Z, resulting in many odd tidbits of information working their way into his stories. There is a website dedicated to Kornbluth named Gone But Not Forgotten: Science Fiction Genius C.M. Kornbluth.

My reviews of Cyril M. Kornbluth's books:

Other books by Cyril M. Kornbluth that I have read but not reviewed:

Short fiction by Cyril M. Kornbluth appearing in works that I have reviewed:

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