James Blish

Scholar, author, poet, critic

James Blish was born May 23rd, 1921 at East Orange, New Jersey, in the United States. His interest in writing, and science fiction in particular, developed quite early. The family has a receipt for his subscription to Amazing Stories dated 1931, and in 1932, Astounding published an enthusiastic letter from him.

He loved cats, life, companionship, beer, and sharing knowledge. One interesting story tells of his intense delight in learning of a young lady who turned to a career in science at least partially as a consequence of reading one of his stories. He spent the first forty years or so of his life in the USA, then moved to England, where he lived out his days at Henly-on-Thames in the beautiful English countryside, with his wife, Judy and a number of cats.

His work output was prodigal; right now, we know of over 400 published works, and there are unpublished ones as well. A brilliant man, his interests covered mediaval history and persons, music, science, writing, poetry, criticism, chess, and more. He was passionate in his support of the things he thought were good; he was passionate in his dislikes as well, often penning well-thought out essays certain to stir up those who disagreed - either way.

If you've not read any of his work, we suggest you begin with some of his science fiction. Good starters might be juveniles like Welcome to Mars; stand-alone novels such as Jack of Eagles; series like Cities in Flight; occult thrillers like Black Easter; or perhaps a cerebral work such as Doctor Mirabilis might suit your fancy. In any case, there's sure to be something for everyone -- common threads are the well thought out plots, interesting characters, and occasional dry humor. Above all, James Blish was a "writer's writer", someone who treated the enterprise as a craft, and a serious one, at that.

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