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Platinum Pohl
Frederik Pohl
Tor, 464 pages

Platinum Pohl
Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl was born in 1919 in New York City. His first novel was The Space Merchants (with C.M. Kornbluth) serialized in Galaxy magazine (1952) and his first solo novel was Drunkard's Walk, a Galaxy serial in 1960. He has won Hugo Awards as an editor (1966, 1967 and 1968), as a short story writer for "The Meeting" (with C.M. Kornbluth) in 1973 and in 1986 for "Fermi and Frost," and as a novelist for Gateway in 1978. He won Nebula Awards for Man Plus in 1976 and Gateway in 1977. As well, he has served as President of SFWA during 1974-76 and World SF for 1980-82.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The SFWA Grandmasters, Volume 1
SF Site Review: O Pioneer!
SF Site Review: The Siege of Eternity

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Frederik Pohl's career as a science fiction writer dates back to 1937 with the pseudonymous publication of the poem "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna." In addition, he has been an editor, an agent, and a publisher. He has won Hugos, Nebulas, the Skylark, John W. Campbell Memorials, a Grandmaster Award, and more. For all he has done, he is probably best know for his fiction, and Platinum Pohl: The Collected Best Stories is the first retrospective look at his career since The Best of Frederik Pohl and The Early Pohl were published in 1976.

The earliest story in the collection, "Let the Ants Try," dates to 1949. It provides a dark look at the distant future in which mankind has given way to a new species. The story sets the tone for much of Pohl's work, although he can be dystopian and satirical at the same time. Perhaps the best example of that is the story which opens the collection, "The Merchants of Venus" (1972).

"The Merchants of Venus," which set the stage for Pohl's well known Heechee Saga, is a satirical look at the role advertising plays in our lives. The story is also an exciting first contact story focusing on exploration and discovery, without the aliens.

The stories are introduced by the book's editor, Jim Frenkel, which allows him to take a more historical and critical look at the selected stories, rather than the personal commentary Pohl could have offered. However, since Pohl has frequently discussed his writing in books like his biography, The Way the Future Was or in The Early Pohl. Because of this prior willingness to discuss his work, not having Pohl's discussion in Platinum Pohl is less of a concern.

Pohl's stories stand on their own, however, generally showing a man with a biting wit, as can be seen in his short, but poignant, examination of Arthur C. Clarke's world in "Creation Myths of the Recently Extinct." Other stories show off his masterful command of the English language and his ability to construct a gripping and provocative tale. One example of this is Pohl's Nebula finalist "The Greening of Bed-Stuy," a dystopian-utopian story set in the future of Pohl's native New York.

While Pohl has had an extremely successful career, several of his most famous stories and novels were written as collaborations. His two most frequent collaborators have been Jack Williamson and C.M. Kornbluth. While Williamson isn't directly represented in this volume (he appears as a main character in "The Mayor of Mare Tranq"), the Pohl-Kornbluth collaboration "The Meeting," which incidentally won the Hugo in 1973, is included.

For the (hopefully) rare science fiction fan who isn't familiar with Pohl's writing, Platinum Pohl is an excellent introduction to his work. The science fiction readers who have already made an acquaintance with Pohl, this collection will reacquaint them with his writing, and possibly, perhaps probably, introduce them to some previously unread stories by Pohl.

Copyright © 2006 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a five-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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