Remembering Frederik Pohl

Now it has gotten dry enough to do some yard work.  Yesterday I mowed the front yard, and this morning I mowed the back yard.  While doing the latter, I noticed some good-sized pods on the okra plants Leive planted last June, so after lunch I went and picked them.  She never got around to working in the garden after June, but because she planted such a ridiculous amount of okra, we’re getting a decent harvest anyhow.  After I brought them in, she said half of the pods were too tough, which happens when they get bigger than your fingers.  I didn’t realize that okra pods grew that quickly; it has probably been two weeks since I first spotted their hibiscus-like flowers.  We agreed that henceforth, I ought to check them every three days, and let some ripen so we’ll have seeds for next year.

Since writing my previous message, I have learned that Frederik Pohl, one of the last old-school science fiction writers, has died at the age of 93.  I’ll admit I only read a few of his stories; the main ones I remember are “Gateway,” “The Space Merchants” (with Cyril Kornbluth), “Merchants’ War,” and “Swanilda’s Song” (from the “Medea:  Harlan’s World” anthology).  Still, he had an influence on my life.  I got to see Mr. Pohl when he spoke at the University of Central Florida, around 1979.  Because it has been so many years since then, the only thing I remember is when somebody asked him how to become a good writer.  Pohl’s answer was to keep on writing, because if you do it long enough you’ll become good at it.  Well, I just saw his blog, The Way the Future Blogs, and Pohl certainly practiced what he preached.  Notice that the last message before his obituary is dated September 2, the day of his death; he either continued to write until they rushed him to the hospital for the last time, or someone close to him posted it.

During the week when I started this blog, I posted a similar quote by another science fiction writer from Pohl’s generation, Theodore Sturgeon (see my message from January 17, 2007).  Sturgeon once said that the first million words somebody writes are garbage, presumably because it takes that much effort to develop your style and stop making stupid mistakes in spelling, grammar, etc.  Well, I trust I have passed the million-word mark by now, having written history since 1988, and having been a blogger since 2007.  Since I don’t get a tremendous amount of Internet traffic these days (both here and at The Xenophile Historian), I either have to write more on subjects that interest other people, or I need to find new ways to promote the webpages I already have up.

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