The news arrived of the death of the British writer Brian Aldiss. It happened last Saturday, August 19, 2017. His family didn’t report the death causes but he had just celebrated his 92th birthday.
It’s impossible to measure the impact that Brian Aldiss’s long career had in the field of science fiction on readers as well as on writers who considered him as a source of inspiration and had stories included in the anthologies he edited. Various colleagues described him as a man with an intense passion for literature and poetry who spent all his life reading and writing.
John Herbert Varley was born on August 9, 1947 in Austin, Texas, USA. In the mid-1970s, John Varley started publishing science fiction stories and among them there were the first of the Eight Worlds series, a future history of the solar system marked by the invasion of Earth by an alien species. These invaders intend to protect the Earth’s cetaceans from the effects of human activities and for this reason destroy the infrastructures built on Earth. Most humans flee to colonize the rest of the solar system and only a few tribes remain on Earth living as primitives.
In the late 1970s, John Varley also began the Gaea trilogy, composed of “Titan” (1979), “Wizard” (1980) and “Demon” (1984). The story is focused on a gigantic wheel-shaped artificial habitat populated by strange living species created by an alien intelligence. In this series, the author used various elements of the fantasy genre but all have a scientific explanation.
Often John Varley has been compared to Robert A. Heinlein for the themes of many of his stories such as personal freedom and sexuality. The resemblances are particularly visible in novels such as “The Steel Beach” and the Thunder and Lightning series, inspired by Heinlein’s juveniles.
Robert Anson Heinlein was born on July 7, 1907 in Butler, Missouri. He was one of the greatest science fiction writers, one of the first writers to publish his works in publications more prestigious than pulp magazines, which at the time didn’t enjoy a great consideration. He was also at the center of several controversies, especially for the ideas contained in “Starship Troopers”.
He had the tendencty to develop some ideas quite to the extreme but in different novels there are different ideas so for example “Starship Troopers” was blamed for militarism or even fascism while “Stranger in a Strange Land” became a point of reference for hippies.
Sometimes Robert Heinlein preached the ideas contained in his works but when he focused on the story the results were really great. His wife Virginia founded the Heinlein Society in 1997 to take care of the author’s enormous legacy. Without him science fiction would be very different.
Roger Joseph Zelazny was born on May 13, 1937 in Euclid, Ohio, USA. Initially, his career as a writer was part time writing short fiction and only in 1965 a cut version of his novel “.. . And Call Me Conrad ” was published in “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction”. In 1966 the novel was published as an integral version as a book with the title “This Immortal”. The novel won the Hugo Award.
In 1965 Roger Zelazny also published the novella “He Who Shapes”, winner of the Nebula Award, which was expanded into the novel “The Dream Master” in 1966. In 1967 Roger Zelazny published the novel “Lord of Light”, who won the Hugo Award.
In 1970 Roger Zelazny published the first book of his fantasy cycle of the Chronicles of Amber “Nine Princes in Amber”. The first five books, published in the 1970s, describe the adventures of Prince Corwin of Amber and are for this reason also called the Corwin series.
Roger Zelazny died on June 14, 1995 because of a cancer that also caused him kidney failure. Some works were published posthumously such as “Psycoshop” in 1998, a novel started by Alfred Bester.
Robert Albert Bloch was born on April 5, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
In 1934, Bloch published the story “Lilies” on the semi-professional magazine “Marvel Tales”. After a few months, he started publishing his stories on “Weird Tales” as well. His first stories were strongly influenced by H.P. Lovecraft, so much that a part of them was set in the fictional universe of the so-called “Cthulhu Mythos”. Lovecraft’s death deeply marked Bloch, who gradually shifted his efforts toward different stories and also into science fiction.
In the ’50s, the Robert Bloch’s activity continued both in the literary field and in radio and was further expanded when he started working for television productions. The skills he had acquired in moving from one genre to another was seen in 1959, when he won the Hugo Award for the best science fiction short story with “That Hell-Bound Train” and he published the thriller / horror novel “Psycho”, which won the Edgar Allan Poe Award. The novel gave him great fame among the general public following its adaptation into the famous movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Robert Bloch died on September 23, 1994. He left a legacy of dozens of novels, screenplays and short stories of various genres. During his life he received many important awards that show the importance of this author in the field of literature, cinema and television.