The news came of the death of writer and screenwriter Harlan Ellison: the cause hasn’t been released but he died yesterday in his sleep.
Harlan Ellison’s character was certainly not easy but behind his disputes there was an artist who worked in various ways, sometimes not easy to notice immediately. He wrote very few novels so his visibility has always been lesser than that of many colleagues and the fact that he became famous and appreciated for the courage of his works says a lot about his importance in the field of science fiction.
Laurence van Cott Niven was born on April 30, 1938 in Los Angeles, California, USA. In 1962 Larry Niven earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas. In 1964 he decided to become a writer and published the first story, “The Coldest Place”. It also begins the Tales of Known Space, a future history that covers about a millennium of history from the human beings’ first attempts of expansion into the solar system.
In addition to continuing that cycle, Larry Niven began various collaborations with some of his fellow writers, in some cases to write novels set in his Known Space. The most important collaboration is with Jerry Pournelle, with whom Larry Niven has written several novels including the two of the Motie mini-cycle “The Mote in God’s Eye” (1974) and “The Gripping Hand”, also known as “The Moat Around Murcheson’s Eye” (1993).
Larry Niven continues his work as a writer so we can expect new works, written on his own or in collaboration. When he wrote his first science fiction stories, many fellow writers were moving towards new trends such as the new wave movement but he preferred more traditional themes, which at the time seemed obsolete to many people. Niven developed them in a solid way, basing his stories on plausible scientific and technological premises, eventually influencing writers of the next generations.
Terence David John Pratchett was born on April 28, 1948 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. Almost accidentally, during an interview with a publisher, Terry Pratchett said he had written a novel and in 1971 it was published as “The Carpet People”. It’s a comic fantasy novel that contains some elements that later became typical of the author’s works. The novel was substantially revised and published in a new edition in 1992.
In 1983 he published the first Discworld novel, “The Color of Magic”, whose fame was increased by a radio adaptation broadcast by the BBC. Pratchett wrote more novels set in the same fictional universe and after a few years decided to pursue a career as a full-time writer.
Writing Discworld novels became Terry Pratchett’s main occupation. That fictional universe is common to all the books and various characters appear in several novels in a series that can be divided into several cycles: Rincewind, Death, Witches, City Watch, Wizards, Tiffany Aching and Moist von Lipwig. Some other novels in the series are not included in any particular cycle.
Terry Pratchett’s work continued almost to the end of his life, dictating texts to his assistant or using a speech recognition system. In recent years he returned to science fiction in a collaboration with Stephen Baxter in the Long Earth series, which began with “The Long Earth”, the first of five novels of which two were published after Pratchett’s death, which occurred March 12, 2015. The writer had a humanist funeral.
Dan Simmons was born on April 4, 1948 in Peoria, Illinois, USA. Since the beginning of his career, Dan Simmons has written works of various literary genres, mixing their elements. Strong links with classical literature are present in his science fiction novel “Hyperion” (1989), the first of the Hyperion Cantos also composed of the novels “The Fall of Hyperion” (1990), “Endymion” (1996) and “The Rise of Endymion” (1997) and the novella “Orphans of the Helix” (1999).
During his career Dan Simmons had great success with a number of works of different literary genres. The mix of genres often makes it difficult and restrictive to label Dan Simmons’ works. “The Terror” (2007) is a historical drama based on real events but the author adds fantasy / horror elements. A few weeks ago a TV show that adapted the novel started.
William Ford Gibson was born on March 17, 1948 in Conway, South Carolina, USA. In 1984 he published “Neuromancer”, which won the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards, launched his career for good and had considerable influence in the field. The novel also incorporates some themes already existing in science fiction but because of the way in which he develops them marked in particular the cyberpunk movement.
With his very visual style, William Gibson marked a period in the history of science fiction with an influence that went even beyond that genre. His descriptions of Western society, which in various ways proved to be apt in certain negative developments, made him important regardless of genre labels, inspiring subsequent productions in various media.