An anthology of new, original stories by bestselling science fiction authors, inspired by science fiction great Frederik Pohl
It isn’t easy to get a group of bestselling SF authors to write new stories for an anthology, but that’s what Elizabeth Anne Hull has done in this powerhouse book. With original, captivating tales by Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Ben Bova, David Brin, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Joe Haldeman, Harry Harrison, Larry Niven, Vernor Vinge, Gene Wolfe, and others, Gateways is a SF event that will be a must-buy for SF readers of all tastes, from the traditional to the cutting edge; from the darkly serious to the laugh-out-loud funny.
Each author has written a story that he or she feels reflects the effect Pohl has had on the field—in the style of writing, the narrative tone, or the subject matter. It says a lot about Pohl's career that the authors represented here themselves span many decades and styles, from the experimental SF of British SF author Brian W. Aldiss to the over-the-top humor of Harry Harrison and Mike Resnick, from the darkly powerful drama of Hollywood screenwriter Frank Robinson to the satiric pungency of multiple Hugo Award-winner Vernor Vinge. Every story here is uniquely nuanced; all of them as entertaining and thought provoking as Pohl's fiction.
In a career dating back to 1939, Pohl has won all the awards science fiction has to offer: Hugos, Nebulas, the SFWA Grand Master Award. Having written more than two million words of fiction and edited the groundbreaking Star anthologies and Hugo Award-winning magazines and books, Pohl is an SF icon. This anthology of brilliant, entertaining SF stories is a testament to his stature in the field.
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ELIZABETH ANNE HULL is a long-time academic and authority on science fiction. She coedited Tales from the Planet Earth with Frederik Pohl, to whom she is married. They live outside Chicago.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
ONE WAY INTO GATEWAYS
“You two should know each other. You have a lot in common,” Tom Clareson said. We were at a meet-the-authors party around the hotel pool on the first night of MidAmericon, the 1976 (and my first) Worldcon, in Kansas City. I had been teaching SF at my college for three years at that point and knew Tom, through the Midwest Modern Language Association and the Popular Culture Association annual meetings, and for his editing of the journal Extrapolation. I also knew of Fred already by his editing and by my reading his fiction, such as The Space Merchants. Over the years since then, I’ve always wondered what Tom saw in each of us that made him think we had anything significant in common. Fred was considerably older than I was, so I really don’t imagine he thought we’d be romantically interested in one another. Years later, Tom told me that introducing us was one of his most proud accomplishments!
As we chatted, I reminded Fred that I had sent him a letter to attend the next year’s PCA meeting, for which I was chairing the SF and fantasy track, to be interviewed by Tom. I boldly asked why he hadn’t answered my request, one way or the other. At first he denied ever having seen that letter, but by the end of the weekend, Fred agreed that he would attend the PCA meeting the following April.
As it turned out, we soon realized that we saw the world from a similar political bias, although in the ensuing thirty-three years, we have not always agreed perfectly on every issue. We bonded as friends almost immediately when I offered to share my stash of instant coffee in my room. My roommate, Mary Kenny Badami, and I had planned a room party later that evening with some friends of ours from Madison and the Chicago area, and of course the BNF (Big Name Fan) Fred graciously agreed to join us even though Mary and I were relative neos to the world of fandom. My feet were killing me from traipsing around Kansas City in high heels, so I propped them up on the bed and demanded—where did I ever get the nerve?—that he massage them. I won’t say I fell in love then and there, but I sure thought he was something special with his sensitive magic fingers.
At the time, Fred was still married and trying to make a go of it after having been separated from and reconciled with Carol. He told me, “At this point in my life it’s easier to be married than not married.” I responded that for me it was easier to be single, as I had been for over fifteen years at that time. Although we recently celebrated our silver anniversary, it’s still true—he’s a lot of work—but he certainly is worth it. We haven’t had an easy or simple life, but it sure has been an interesting journey together.
We began to see one another romantically in the summer of 1977, shortly after Carol finally decided their marriage couldn’t be saved. We met at first at SF cons we were both attending for our own interests. Then we began to look for cons that we both wanted to attend. We soon discovered another shared interest, travel. I had put myself through college as a travel agent and Fred had been lecturing on SF around the world, mostly behind the Iron Curtain, for the State Department. When Fred couldn’t go with me to Italy because of previous commitments, he arranged for me to meet friends of his in Rome. When I went to Australia and New Zealand to see my godchild with her mother, we stopped in Tahiti and Moorea, which made Fred so envious that he arranged to go to the South Pacific himself for a few weeks the next winter. And when I traveled to China by myself, Fred influenced me to organize and lead another tour to China a year and a half later, so he could see what I had fallen in love with. With very few exceptions, we’ve traveled together ever since.
Since the late seventies, even before we married in 1984, one of our favorite domestic destinations has been Lawrence, Kansas, every July for the Campbell and Sturgeon Awards weekend. Fred has also helped to discover many new writers by serving as one of the judges of the finalists of the year for the Writers of the Future. Together and separately, we’ve taught classes and helped run workshops, judged novels and stories, and been honored guests at countless SF conventions in the United States and Canada as well as around the world.
Fred has even mentored me by encouraging me to become president of the Science Fiction Research Association and by supporting my campaign and giving me the courage to run for Congress in the eighth district of Illinois in 1996 as the Democratic nominee against our local representative, a long-time incumbent. We’ve also written both fiction and nonfiction together, though we both recognize that he is the writer who teaches occasionally while I am a professor of English (now emerita) who sometimes writes. The shared experiences have given us each the greatest respect for the other’s professions.
We’ve visited seventy-some countries and been to see the ends of the earth, even living in London for a semester when I was teaching there. We’ve cruised into the polar ice cap within the Arctic Circle and in the Antarctic off Palmer Station, where I swam in the ship’s (covered) pool. We’ve crossed the equator a number of times, and I’ve snorkeled around the islands and reefs in the Galápagos, and on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, as well as on the smaller Great Barrier Reef off Belize and on the reefs around the Seychelles and around various islands in the Ca rib be an and Hawaii, “where the hukuhuku numunumu apa aa go swimming by.”
In addition to all the usual tourist cities and well-known sights of China, we’ve been from Turfan and Urumqi in the Gobi to Chengdu to Tibet to Inner Mongolia. From the Mid-Atlantic ridge in Iceland, to Mauna Kea, to Patagonia, to Machu Picchu, to Mount Kirinyaga and the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and to Scandinavia and most of Eastern and Western Europe. We’ve visited east, west, and central Canada and all but three (Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana) of the United States together, and most of both Eastern and Western Europe, parts of Africa, five countries in Asia, many countries of South America, and many islands in the Ca rib be an and in the Pacific.
Wherever we’ve traveled, we’ve tried to meet SF fans and professionals, and we’ve made many good friends. We were part of the formation of World SF in the late 1970s (which Harry Harrison talks about in his afterword) and tried to help others network with their counterparts in various parts of the world. Although we’re definitely Americans through and through, Fred and I feel like citizens of the world, and we try to work for peace and shared understanding, both locally and globally.
When we cruise, our favorite mode of travel in recent years (because we can use the ship as a hotel and avoid airport hassles and worries about missed connections), Fred usually lets me do the sightseeing for us both while he stays on board to write, having a nearly empty ship to himself while we’re in port. People who’ve read a lot of Fred’s stories will recognize that many of these places have become the settings for Fred’s stories, as well as for a few of my own.
So it was natural that Fred and I were cruising in the South Pacific in January 2009, to revisit Tahiti together this time, when I conceived the project that would become this festschrift volume of tribute to my husband for his ninetieth year, marking his career in the world of science fiction—as a fan and as a professional writer, first and foremost, but also as an agent and editor of both magazines and books. He’s also served as president of both the Science Fiction Writers of America and World SF. He’s lectured at colleges and universities across the US and Canada and indeed around the world, and taught workshops and mentored many young writers, acted as a judge for various contests and competitions, and written insightful commentary on written SF and coauthored with his son, Frederik Pohl IV, a comprehensive book on the history of sci fi film. He’s even published much nonfiction in areas outside the field.
He’s won Hugos, Nebulas, and several Grand Masters trophies—so many awards, in fact, that we cannot contain them all in the rather large trophy case we finally bought especially for the purpose. He’s done nearly everything a professional could do in our field, except be a publisher, a librarian, or an illustrator. And even though he never could draw—anyone who has his autograph realizes he never even mastered cursive—he’s ordered artwork for countless magazine covers. Some of it graces the walls of our home today.
Above all, Fred has always remained a reader and an active fan, publishing fanzines and having been one of the founding members of the first science fiction convention in 1936 in Philadelphia. He was delighted several years ago to be the fan Guest of Honor at Westercon. He was at the heart of New York fandom in the 1940s and ’50s. If you want to know what it was like in those early days, I recommend his early memoir, The Way the Future Was. I recently told him that I thought he should update this book, since it doesn’t even mention me, having been finished before we knew one another. So he has started a blog, thewaythefutureblogs.com. He often writes about people he knew well in the SF field who are gone now, and couldn’t be asked to contribute to this volume. I occasionally post on his site too.
Unfortunately, midway through our aforementioned tropical cruise we both picked up a virus that weakened us, such that Fred was hospitalized this year for six longish stays, not to mention several shorter trips to the ER, before finally stabilizing in the autumn with the installation of a pacemaker. I myself had laryngitis from January through April, and then, just as I was finally able to speak aloud and was breathing somewhat better, in mid-June I stumbled backward and fractured the L1 vertebra in my spine, which required a corrective “procedure” and the wearing of back braces for a few months, followed by more surgery to correct an abdominal hernia. It was touch-and-go whether we both would make it to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary in July.
But for nearly a year, I have worked on making this collection happen. At first I planned to make it a surprise for Fred’s ninetieth birthday. Then his doctor suggested that it might raise his morale and give him more will to live if he knew about it and had something else to look forward to, besides finishing his own current novel. Fred wanted it to be my project entirely, and the results are my sole responsibility, even though I was happy to have my husband’s wisdom and vast experience to consult with. Previously Fred and I had coedited an anthology of stories from around the world, Tales from the Planet Earth, 1986, and from that experience I also learned much about encouraging original stories from a diverse group of writers.
Although most of the writers required very little persuasion to contribute a story to this tribute volume, the whole project ran less smoothly than we had anticipated because both of us were incapacitated for so long. But at last it has come together beautifully, rather like a poorly run SF con that is highly successful in spite of the inexperience of the neofan organizers, because of the experience of the fans in having a good time at conventions—the fans wouldn’t let it be a failure. Trufans are prepared, perhaps by reading SF, to adapt to any situation. Likewise, the writers invited to write for this volume are all professionals who came though with stories of, in my estimation, extremely high quality, stories that exemplify their own characteristics in style and content. Fred was agent for some of the writers and editor for others, mentor or inspiration to still others. I have asked each contributor to write an afterword, in which they could discuss their own stories, and/or talk about the various ways they know Fred.
A few notes on particular stories: some of the stories are actually parts of a novel-in-progress, or they are being expanded into a novel. One writer, James Gunn, is allowing us to use four excerpts from his as-yet-unfinished novel, Transcendental; each is narrated by a representative of a different alien species—the four altogether create a rounded perspective on the way we humans look to others and help us to understand ourselves. Our friend and neighbor Gene Wolfe produced a story that he prophesied that I would hate, but I love it, and expect you will too. All the stories fit in with Fred’s aim to always make the reader think twice—and then think again.
Several of those I invited to participate could not because of previous writing commitments, or because they were no longer writing short fiction, some were not writing fiction at all. A number of these writers contributed their own tributes, which are distributed between other stories. From the conception throughout the entire editing and compiling process, I have been encouraged and supported by my in-house editor, James Frenkel, an old friend and Fred’s editor for many years, who wrote the final afterword for this anthology.
—ELIZABETH ANNE HULL, PHD
Professor Emerita, William Rainey Harper College September 2009
Excerpted from Gateways by Elizabeth Anne Hull.
Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth Anne Hull.
Published in 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
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