Frederik Pohl was a great writer who happened to write science fiction, mostly. Imaginative, stirring tales were his forte. He wrote dozens of novels and untold short stories, stretching the limits of our knowledge while telling rip-roaring yarns, yet seldom treading into sheer fantasy. He was among the elite handful of top SF writers and his writing and editing career spanned nine decades. He died yesterday at age 93.
He got a lot right in his tales of the future, including the advent of corporatism as a political force and the evils of runaway advertising, both concepts put to print in the 1950s. Also, he predicted climate change, depicting the negative effects of overpopulation and resource depletion. One of his neatest ideas was that an era of plenty would have unintended consequences, i.e., being "poor" would be a special treat reserved only for the privileged, while everyone else were forced to consume too much. He also pondered upon the meaning of humanity and how our evolution -- natural and artificial - might make our descendents unrecognizable.
Many times Pohl stimulated this reader's thinking on contemporary issues and the promise as well as dangers of the future, all the while instilling a regard for the wonder and majesty and sheer incomprehensibility of the universe.
And here's the special thing: Unlike many SF writers who for some reason or another tended towards libertarianism, Pohl seemed to get it. He was, without labeling himself, a clear-eyed progressive. He continued blogging through the morning he died, and among his last entries were comments on the danger that natural-gas fracking could badly contaminate our groundwater, that research shows giving money away to the poor often actually does work, and -- my favorite -- an Aug. 21 blast against the infamous, billionaire Koch Brothers and their carbon-based greed. Beneath a large poster of the two siblings, headlined "Stop the Koch Brothers," Pohl proceeded as follows:
You’re Killing America’s Future
If the Koch Brothers need more money that badly, let one of them get a part-time job.
Browse Pohl's inventive mind, both via his blog at http://www.thewaythefutureblogs.com/... via his books, available in paper and electronic versions. You can't go wrong.